My Grandmother Delma Vie Trodgon briefly entered the New Year this morning and left it quietly, leaving behind many loved ones who are grieving this loss.
I can hardly comprehend that she is no longer here, and the few thoughts that are giving me comfort are these:
She had told me so many times how much she is looking forward to being reunited with her husband and my mother. I need to find peace in her faith that she is finally able to have the reunion that she has waited so long for.
Like my grandfather, because of the care and attention given her by her children and grandchildren, she was able to live with a high quality of life in her own home right up until this past week when she had to go to the hospital. She never had to endure a growing season without her garden.
Also like my grandfather, she had complete command of her mental facilities throughout her life, and though many physical activities were restricted, she still was able to do most things independently.
She lived through her 90th birthday, and made it to the new year. My mother was one of 5 children. I am one of 19 grandchildren. My daughter and son are two of 30 great-grandchildren. Little Samuele in Italy is her only great-great-grandchild. I am so thankful that my grandmother got to know my children and the memories I will have of their time with her.
My grief is selfish- I miss her, I wanted to see her one last time. One more visit. One more time hearing the tea-kettle whistle. One more time eating oatmeal together. One more time talking about what we will have for lunch. One more time watching her defy all logic by opening a can of beans with the tiniest can opener I have ever seen. One more time hearing her tell Gary when he comes in to get a drink out of the fridge. One more time watching her spray Pam on the cookie sheet. One more time trying to find the right kind of jar for the leftovers. One more time walking by her bedroom and glancing in to see her and Marilyn discussing the items that she needs from the store. One more time hearing her say my daughter’s name….which is a hard one. One more time bringing a sewing project and asking her for advice. One more time seeing her smile when Sam teases her. One more time sitting down next to her and listening to her tell stories about my mom and grandpa. One more time saying, “Well, I guess it’s time to go to bed.” One more time hugging her good night and hearing her hearing aid whistle when her head presses against mine.
I feel there is more I could have, should have done with her, and these regrets add to my grief. I know she would not want me or any of us to feel this way, and I just need to be grateful for all the things she has left with me. I have written before about how I’ve tried to cultivate interests that are shared between my mother Carolyn and my grandma such as sewing, cooking and gardening. I’ve not tried to put into words the many things Grandma taught me simply through her strength of character and love.
Grandma held a lot of love for us and she expressed it. Whenever I would call her, she would tell me that she had been thinking about me, and I knew that that was a genuine statement and not just something nice to say. She expressed her love for me and my family specifically and told me that she remembered us in our prayers. She took care to remember Rijen and my dad and told me often how highly she thought of them.
I don’t have all the childhood memories of North Carolina like my other siblings who went there more often and actually lived there at different times in their youth. I do have great memories of the few trips we took when I was younger, however in my mind Grandma was kind of there in the background, since Grandpa’s personality and all the activity with cousins, the animals and the farm was more captivating to me as a young girl.
My relationship with Grandma developed more in the past seven years, after I was married and by virtue of our moving to Virginia, where I could drive down to Asheboro a couple times a year and spend time with her there.
During this time, Grandma was an important link between me and my mother. I felt that although my mom wasn’t around any more for all the important things that an adult daughter needs her mother for, I still had Grandma. I am sure it is quite understandable to be sad about the fact that my mom would never meet my husband or know my children….that aspect of loss will always be present in my life, however that sadness was eased by the comfort that my Grandma got to meet them. When I brought baby Fiona in to see Grandma…that single moment was one of the favorite moments of my life. Then, after moving to Germany and returning, the fact that Grandma was able to see baby Leif on two occasions….now that was a huge blessing that I am very grateful for.
Her marriage and commitment to her husband has been a great example to me…since the time I attended their 50th wedding anniversary when I was younger, to the time when I was able to introduce her to my husband. I am sure there must have been difficult times, and from what I have heard, she made great sacrifices to be a support and partner as a wife, a dutiful daughter-in-law, (how would you react if your father-in-law tried to wear his shoes in bed or started chopping up the front porch for firewood? Hopefully with a lot of patience like Grandma) and a loving mother to her children.
She missed Paul–on countless occasions she would stand in the kitchen and tell me about the day he had to go to the hospital and we would both cry together. We would also sit together and she would tell me how they would lie in bed and, “talk about old times.” Then I would ask her about some of those stories and she would tell me the one about how he fooled her into eating squirrel and then to get him back she played a joke on him when she made him lunch and we would both laugh.
I wanted to end this day looking back at the pictures and videos I took on our last visit with her in October. I hadn’t looked at them since the trip, and this is what motivated me to start writing. I wanted to put down some of the memories which I have been reliving in my head ever since I heard that Grandma was in the hospital….and although I would like to organize them a bit more formally at some point in the future, I feel that writing this now while the memories are fresh can help me to end this day by thinking of her. My grief right now is keen, and in some way, writing these memories, looking at the pictures and hearing her soft North Carolina accent on the video has helped to temper my sadness somewhat.
So I will end this post and this day with a few videos taken during my last visit with my Grandmother Trogdon.
The first is a story that I heard for the first time on this trip. I like to tell Fiona “morality tales,” and Fiona likes to hear stories that are “a little bit scary,” so this story is a perfect combination of both. Grandma had told Fiona this story already a couple times, but then I wanted to video tape it, so it is a re-telling. That is why it begins with Fiona asking about genealogy. (Fiona is a little bit obsessed about who people’s moms and dads are. ) However, it also demonstrates Grandma’s amazing memory for family names.
Some back history to better understand the story: Grandma wasn’t always perfectly obedient as a little girl, and one thing she liked to do was to go and play in the creek (Grandma calls this a branch and a spring in her story) which was near their house. Her mother did not want her playing in the water, since it could be dangerous, so she and her sister Lucy concocted a plan to stop Grandma from playing in the spring. In case Grandma’s voice is not clear in the tape, I transcribed the story here in a Google doc:Grandma and the Witch
Fiona and Grandma share a middle name, (Delma Vie- Fiona Vie). I hope that it will be more than just an unusual middle name for her– that it will represent a heritage and the characteristics that I admire in Grandma that I would also love to see in her. I am so happy that although Fiona will likely not have natural memories of Grandma, she will be able to look back at pictures and videos like this last upcoming one.
On the last visit, I had this ambitious goal to make Raggedy Ann and Andy pairs for all of the new great grandchildren who were recently born. Unfortunately, I finished everything except the hair, as you can see here , so this project is yet to be completed. This is a style of doll that Grandma had sewn often in her life for family and friends. Grandma and Marilyn had given me the pattern and some of the fabric. I tried to do as much as I could before the visit, however I needed to look at the doll that Grandma had made as an example, and I also wanted Grandma to give me some instructions….and I did hope that she could do some physical aspect of the doll construction too. Plus I thought it would be fun to work on it there.
Due to Grandma’s arthritis, she was unable to do any sewing, however she was able to help with stuffing the dolls. The morning we flew out, I had Grandma help Fiona stuff her Raggedy Ann doll. I know it is just a silly rag doll, however this moment epitomizes what is one of the most important aspects to me about family and having children…passing on traditions, knowledge and these type of shared memories.
Writing this tonight…..it was not a carefully crafted tribute to Grandma, or a nicely organized “In Memoriam” about her life. It was more a spontaneous and unexpected kind of thing. I cannot express all the emotions I feel about how much she meant to me and all of us. I hope this can be a record for me to remember how I felt about her, and our relationship on the day that she died.
Good night Grandma. Sweet Dreams. I love you. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
*This was written last night, Jan 1 2012, but I posted it the next night, since the videos took some time uploading.*
**I will be traveling to Asheboro, NC with Leif to attend the viewing and funeral, on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, along with my siblings. Obituary here. **