November 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

>Grandma Ruth, my father’s mother died on Sunday night. She was 88 years old.

I don’t remember when I last saw her.

The funeral was held in Minnesota, but I wouldn’t have gone, even if I had known ahead of time.

My family history predates my sister and myself, and much of it is unknown to me. My grandma served as the family peacemaker– as much as anyone was able to take on this role, or be taken seriously in this role– and I am saddened that her passing feels like another confirmation that the rift in our family will continue throughout my lifetime.

I wonder what kind of a life my grandma would have led if she hadn’t married my grandfather. I wonder what makes a person choose that kind of destiny. I hope that her legacy is a lesson to all of her grandchildren, my cousins whom I may never see again thanks to my grandfather’s reign.

My father has worn the same watch since his Bar-Mitzvah, and it broke this week. His parents inscribed the backside of the watch before giving it to him, and he’s wound it each day since he was thirteen to keep time. The symbolism and poignancy of the broken watch are transparent, but the complexity of the grief, which lives in my family, is much harder for me to understand.

Incidentally, we watched Harold and Maude in one of my classes today, a film all about learning to live. Maude says to Harold, “A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life. Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.”


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