My Grandma Rose

I just want to post a few words today about my Grandma Rose, who passed away on September 30, 1984. I was fifteen at the time, and her death marked my first experience of losing someone close to me.

Grandma Rose was my mother’s mother. She was born in Eastern Europe (she liked to say she was born in Vienna, but genealogical research–some by me and some by one of my mother’s cousins–suggests a Polish village is more likely). She came to this country as a seven-year-old who spoke no English and hadn’t seen her father in six years. She was the oldest of five sisters who survived to adulthood (another baby girl died at 13 months, and another was stillborn). She was a divorced mother raising two children at a time when that still raised eyebrows. She faced plenty of struggles in her life, yet took great joy in her family, her opera records, her Jewish heritage, and her painting. And she was an early and devoted fan of my writing (especially one story I wrote in fifth grade about the Mona Lisa).

If she were here today she’d be 94 (probably still looking far younger than she really was), and great-grandmother to nine beautiful children, ages 6 months to 7 years. I see bits of her in all of them.