My grandmother Viola Freed passed away yesterday. For my entire life, she (and my grandpa) has been in better shape than anyone else’s grandparents that I knew. Throughout my childhood we routinely hiked with my grandparents, even in Estes Park, high above reasonable oxygen levels found in the rest of the country. Even in recent years, the two were more active than I expected. So ironically, when her health failed, it was first Alzheimer’s, then cancer, and finally a broken hip that caught up with her.
Grandma Duck, not Grandma Freed. We referred to her after the mallards that came from across the street in Hartwell Park. She was always composed, always appropriate, and probably the original source of my sarcasm. In fact, I’m certain she’s the source of many of my idiosyncrasies, and for that I am thankful.
My grandpa always called her starchy, and it wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I found out why. Early in their marriage, my grandmother had ironed my grandfather’s shirts and sprayed them with so much starch that my grandpa was able to stand the shirts up in a line and salute them. (he was in “the war”)
We had an impromptu wake last night with the remaining nuclear family and commemorated our matriarch’s physical departure. Ella never got to know her great-grandma duck, but for a few weeks, she was able to cross paths and even elicit a smile.