Chris's grandmother, who died on New Year's Day, came to live with his parents when Mallory was about nine months old -- just a few months after Mallory herself started spending all day at his parent's house when I went back to work. I'd known Gigi (my girls' name for her) for years, of course, but I didn't really get to know her until she moved here, just at the point where she started declining. I never got to see the woman Chris described in his beautiful eulogy for her, or the woman Amy writes about here -- independent, sophisticated, spiritual, meticulously neat. But what I did get to see was enough for anyone. I saw a rather frail old woman who adored the baby in the house. Gigi held Mallory, and rocked her, and told her nursery rhymes in Polish. She scolded us if Mallory didn't have socks on, or a hat, or was in any other way not adequately protected against the cold (and Gigi was always cold). When Mallory got older, they read magazines together, and had tea parties, and took care of baby dolls, and watched Oprah. I think Mallory especially appreciated Gigi when Phoebe came along; by this time, Gigi was too weak to pick up the new baby, her hands to shaky to hold a bottle, but she was still able to pull Mallory up on her lap when Mallory needed a little babying of her own.

One night the girls were splashing around in Gigi's big bathtub, and Gigi poked her head in to watch. She smiled and said, "These are the best times. Don't ever forget them." I said I would try not to. But then Gigi started to forget almost everything, and to fall, and to decline. She had to be moved to a nursing home. "I miss Gigi," Mallory said, a few weeks later, and so we started to go there each Sunday for breakfast, the whole family. Mallory and Phoebe didn't quite know what to make of this new Gigi, in a wheelchair now, visibly older and confused. After only a few months, Gigi didn't know what to make of them either -- I think she thought they may have been her own daughters. But it didn't matter; every week, the minute they ran into her room, Gigi would break out into a big smile and say, "Look what big girls you're getting to be!"

I'm glad my girls got to know her for as long as they did. I'm glad that they brought her joy, up to the end of her days. I'm glad she's at peace now. We love you, Gigi. Watch over your girls for me.


MomofK9s said...

That was beautiful.

aimee said...

A beautiful tribute to a much-loved woman (I can tell). Again, I am sorry for you and your family's loss.