This week marks the first anniversary of the death of my grandmother. Velma Welch was the tiny, spitfire daughter of a fun-loving Irishman, my Grandpa “Red”. I was lucky enough to know all four of my grandparents as an adult; all were special in their unique way. Grandma was a character – a feisty, opinionated woman who was simultaneously racist and deeply religious. She and Grandpa opened their home to many foster children after their own three children were grown. I always knew that Grandma could be a bit difficult to get along with, but luckily I never experienced that. Since they retired out of state for most of my childhood, we only became really close when she and Grandpa moved back home as his health began to fail. The woman I got to know as an adult was interesting, funny, and somehow leveraged her considerable stubbornness into a healthy and resilient approach toward life. She knew how she wanted to live her life, and she did so on her terms. She was a role model for me on many levels, and she was also one of my best friends. There is a classic Simpsons episode that contrasts two views of heaven on side by side clouds: a quiet but boring Protestant heaven, and a fun Catholic heaven stereotypically filled with dancing Irish, an Italian feast, and a Mexican fiesta. Though a lifelong Methodist, I can only imagine Grandma in a place like that Catholic heaven…laughing, telling stories, and being just a little ornery. Heaven’s lucky to have you Grandma—I’ll see you soon.
“Everyone needs to have access both to grandparents and grandchildren in order to be a full human being.” –Margaret Mead