Last month, Marlon’s grandmother, the matriarch of the family who we all lovingly called “Meme,” passed away. Although she lived a full 96 years, it still seemed sudden to us. She was so vibrant, so full of life, so active that we all thought she would live forever. All of us traveled immediately to New Braunfels and San Antonio, Texas, to be together as an entire family and pay tribute to this incredible woman. It was so wonderful to all be together and engage in a lot of laughing, reminiscing and storytelling. It had been a few years since the entire family of aunts, uncles and cousins had been together, and it was long overdue. It would have made Meme happy and proud.
Doing aerobics, going to China and climbing glaciers in Alaska in her 80s, Meme was not one to succumb to old age. She always lived life to the fullest, wanting to partake in every adventure she could and keep her mind and body active. We could all learn a thing or two from her! She was matter-of-fact and said what was on her mind, but yet remained open-minded, non-judgmental, supportive of everything that everyone did. Her six grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren gave her the greatest joy in life, and she was so proud of each and every one of them. We were so happy that she made many trips to California over the years, cheering loudly at dance shows and musical theater performances, watching kids’ sports events and shining with pride at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (even sharing her 95th birthday with one of them).
I credit Meme with much of the success of my marriage. Marlon is somewhat of a work-a-holic and is very driven and very serious. The very first time I met Meme, right after Marlon and I got engaged, she took me aside and told me that she was trusting me with the difficult and important task of making sure that Marlon took time to “smell the roses” and enjoy life. It was her biggest fear that he would not stop working long enough to get married and have a family. Ever since that day, I remind Marlon often that his wise grandmother wants him to enjoy life, wants him to take a vacation, wants him not to worry so much about work or money or whatever he is worrying about. If he doesn’t listen to my reasoning, I know he’ll listen if it’s a directive from Meme!
Often when someone passes away, there are regrets that you should have spent more time with the person. I can honestly and happily say that we do not have that regret. We traveled to Texas often over the years, to see the whole family in addition to Meme, but that was often the impetus for an extra trip, especially in the last few years. On these trips we enjoyed such fun times doing things like going to Spurs games (she was a huge fan and had season tickets), going bowling and doing Sudoku. Still, her death, as with any, is a good reminder to all of us to continue to make spending time with family a priority, to enjoy life and not to put things off. The very next weekend after Meme’s funeral, while Marlon and I were in Ohio for a family Bar Mitzvah, our kids stayed with my mom at her senior living facility, so they could spend more time with her. We will make sure to keep on doing that.
All of the grandkids had an opportunity to go through Meme’s many things and take items that we wanted to remember her by. Among other things, we now have two beautiful Jewish pieces of art from Israel and her menorah. It means so much to have these things, because Judaica items are very important to us and seeing her Jewish objects blended in our home with our own Jewish objects means that every day we will think of her and every day she will be here with us.