Today would have been my grandmother's 95th birthday. In remembering her, for myself and for Tori, I do not know what to mention...
The lullabyes sung slightly out of tune. The summer evenings playing cards on the porch. The picnics. The rides in her Olds 98. The way she called me 'li'l stinker'.
Or perhaps the things that happened long before I was born.
The hard times growing up as oldest daughter of Hungarian immigrants in a family of five children. The loss of her mother to a botched abortion when one more child would have meant homelessness or starvation. Or the birth of her own first child, my father, Christmas Eve in the darkest year of the Depression. The 18-year marriage to my grandfather, a violent and wandering drunk. The years traveling from town to town as my grandfather lost job after job. The hours spent each day on her knees scrubbing the floors of Manhattan's rich. The years as a single mother raising two children. The years in the Pennsylvania knitting mill, hunched over a sewing machine. The loss of her son to a heart attack before his 47th birthday.
We are all shaped by the things that happen to us, things over which we have little control. But it is how we play the cards we are dealt that is most telling. And my grandmother knew the meaning of grace: that rare ability to give even when one's pockets are empty.
I hope Tori someday knows how much this woman made me feel loved. And how love, afterall, is the most important and lasting gift one can give another.