I wrote in earlier posts about how sad I was that I would not be able to make it back to Chicago or Omaha for Christmas, but fate played a double-edged hand (and mixed metaphor), and because of a scary and sudden change in my grandmother's health, I found myself deep in the Midwest.
Gather we did. Here I am with my aunt and uncle from Sun Valley, and my dear grandmother, Agnes:
Of course you know that 95 is quite old, and that eventually there will be a lessening of the mind and weakness of the body, but nothing can prepare you for the frustration loved ones feel in the process. Last summer we made fudge and potato salad and lasagna together, with these hands:
It would be impossible to overstate my grandma's influence on my life. Her unerring taste was what interested me in design, and for most of my life she lived in an exquisitely beautiful house of the edge of a bluff and large park. Almost half the square footage was taken up by an extraordinary greenhouse. There were orchids and oranges and poinsettias the size of large bushes. Why must care for the elderly always take place in dim rooms with cinder block walls?
She is well cared for, her health stabilized, but the change of affairs is sad. I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, and she answered without pause that she could always use some Chanel No.5, and a Rolls Royce never hurt. She was only half-kidding, of that you can be sure. But mostly we played cards and gossiped about stars she had met in the 30s: Sonia Henie (the great figure skater, movie star and Nazi), Barbara Stanwyck and Betty Rogers.
Here my brother, father and grandma play peanuckle:
This one goes out to you, grandma. Let's make 2010 great, and celebrate 96 in the Fall.