Grandma Jane

September 16, 2007

No. Not my Grandma Jane. My kid’s Grandma Jane. She was my mother in law, then she was my former mother in law, then she was my friend, Jane. I’ve been thinking a lot about her the past few days. She was ornery and stubborn. She had a keen sense of humor and a sharp tongue to match it. She lived hard. She lived a life that some did not approve of, but she did live her life. She lived part of it with me and for that I am thankful.

She told me when I first met her that she was Bohemian. I might have been a little shy of 20. We were sitting on the ground with our backs up against a building. There was a green leafy plant about three feet tall growing up between the pavement and the block. We both saw it at the same time. She said “I believe that’s marijuana.” Then she laughed and said, “Close your mouth Gene, I’m Bohemian; that stuff doesn’t bother me.” Today I googled Bohemian just to see what it said. “Bohemian: someone who refuses to conform to established standards of conduct.” Yep. That was Jane.

Grandma Jane was every kid’s dream at Christmas because she gave the gift that their parents never would have. Like the Ant Farm. Or the aquarium complete with all of the fixins. Including the heater, but that’s another story. And what one got, they all got. She was the one who inevitably had a sack full of Bubbles or those paddles with the red ball attached. Or a noisemaker for everyone. She loved every one of her grandchildren and was proud of their accomplishments.

I don’t think I really knew Jane until many years later when she came to live with Sarah and me. She had surgery and then radiation for cancer, and was headed for the nursing home. We had plenty of room and I had plenty of time, so we asked her to come home with us instead. It was rough going for her. She was cancer free, but the radiation had ravaged her body. We got her all set up; brought over her television and an entire bookcase full of cookbooks which she could not bear to be without. She really didn’t want much except for the cookbooks.

She was pretty much immobile. She had a walker, but it was a struggle. We had visiting nurses for physical therapy. And we had a wheelchair. I would come home at lunch every day and we would eat together. She would tell me what Judge Judy was up to and find recipes for me to cook for us in the evening. We spent lots of time talking and sorting out our lives.

She decided in early November that she wanted to cook Thanksgiving dinner. So she made a list and I went to the store. Nestled in between the dressing mix and celery, there was Vermouth. Then a little further down the list was Gin, followed by anchovy stuffed olives. I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box sometimes, so I wondered what the heck she was putting together. We wheeled her down to the kitchen and she was happy as a clam putting together her feast. And her martini. She made one hell of a mess and one hell of a meal. She sat the martini next to her thigh on the wheelchair and cooked up a storm. The kids and their friends all sat around her table and we gave thanks. It was a Thanksgiving I will never forget.

I think I had the very best of her. She encouraged me to live my life. When I told her I thought maybe this guy at work was hitting on me, she encouraged me to take a leap of faith. Eventually I did. She never got to meet him, but I know she would have liked him. She and Willi are a lot alike.

Here’s to you Jane. I’m thinking of you tonight.



18 Responses to “Grandma Jane”

  1. Tink Says:

    Oh! What a great story, and a neat neat person to have had in your life.

  2. milkandhoney Says:

    Oh, I miss Jane too. I have some great stories of my own, like when the power went out for a week during the storm of 1998 and we made coffee in the fireplace. And when we were sitting downstairs and heard her shout, “SON OF A BITCH!!” We all ran upstairs to see what had happened… did she fall out of bed? No, worse. The batteries in her transistor radio died.

    She was a firecracker, huh. I’m so glad we had that time with her.

  3. […] 16th, 2007 · No Comments My mom just wrote a great post about my dad’s mom, my Grandma Jane. She was one of the coolest people I ever had the privilege of knowing and […]

  4. her indoors Says:

    she sure sounded like a lovely lady to know

  5. Candy Says:


    I loved the story about my mom. You were very good to her and I always appreciated it.


  6. Susan Says:

    She sounds like a character who greatly enriched the lives of all those around her. How lucky you were to have each other.

  7. Cazzie Says:

    Lovely sentiments đŸ™‚

  8. dilling Says:

    Beautiful tribute…welcome back.

  9. corky Says:

    Jane sounds like my kind of gal. She must have been a lot of fun.

  10. Peggy Says:

    I bet I woulda liked her!

  11. Oh, Gawilli….I have tears in my eyes. Granny Jane sounds like such a wonderful person who really loved life. Your tribute is beautiful!

  12. debi Says:

    Tears must be catching. One of your best posts. I am so glad that God sprinkles these kind of souls around the planet and if you are very blessed and with a bit of luck you may have an unforgettable character in your life. Maybe 2. I missed you.

  13. daddy d Says:

    Very nice story. You where a real help to her.

  14. mjd Says:

    Welcome back to the blogging world. I am glad that you started with this a lovely tribute to Jane. The people that encourage us to live our lives are the best. Jane would have indeed liked Willi (doesn’t everybody.)

    Is that you or Sarah in the background of the Bohemian’s picture.

  15. gawilli Says:

    Mjd – That’s both of us!

  16. […] kids had an ant farm once. Their Grandma Jane gave it to them. It was wonderful. But then that was the kind of grandma she was. They did not have […]

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