My husband’s grandmother turned 100 this year in January. She has passed away, leaving a legacy of love and a century’s worth of memories.
She was a powerful force – her brain still sharp as a tack, but her body quitting the game on her through her last years and days. She said, ‘It’s not much fun being 100, I’m not sure why anyone would want to do it.’
She lived a full and interesting life, one that demonstrated her determination, her intelligence, her generosity, her love of her family and her commitment to friends and community.
She went to college and graduated in 1933 with a degree in Chemistry. It was rare for a woman to go to college during that time, let alone study chemistry. Because there were so few jobs during the depression, she ended up teaching until she got married.
She moved her 2 eldest children from Kentucky to New Mexico during WWII to be closer to her husband – who’d been asked to participate in a top secret project in Los Alamos. There was no housing available for them (they weren’t supposed to be there, after all), so they bought and set up tents and lived in a Bandelier National Monument campground for the summer. Her youngest daughter was born in New Mexico, her birth certificate stating that she was born at a PO Box in Santa Fe – the only known address for the families associated with the project.
She survived two fights with breast cancer before modern medicine and treatments were fully formed. A mastectomy and radiation therapy were radical and new, but she made the brave decision to be aggressive with her treatment and showed the beast she was not to be reckoned with.
She had an incredible memory and was a great story teller. She had always been very athletic and taught exercise classes until her mid 80’s, at least. She left an indelible mark on her community, had lifelong friends, carried herself with confidence and grace, demanding respect without ever asking for it. We often use her as our guidepost for manners expectations – ‘would you sit like that in front of Grammie?’
I feel grateful to have had the chance to know her, learn from her, hear about her amazing life, and see the love her family had for her. I am also grateful that my children got to know their only surviving great grandparent.
She is survived by 3 children, 9 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. She was loved and will be missed greatly. She lived a full, interesting life and was able to leave this earth on her terms with as much dignity as possible.
Her family is remembering her today with immense love in their hearts.