Marie O'Keefe Vorobely
My dad just called. Grandma died last night.
I met Grandma when I was just a little girl, 2 or 3 years old. She lived in the apartment complex opposite ours. She had other grandchildren - her sons' kids - and we all used to play together. I remember that she used to have the flavored ice cream cones - the cake cones that were brown, pink, or green. She wasn't biologically related to us, of course, but that never made her any less family.
Her first marriage was abusive, and with the help of her parish priest, she escaped and divorced. I can only imagine how bad the marriage must have been for a Catholic priest to actually condone divorce. She was a tough lady with a sparkle about her... my mom always referred to her as a leprechaun. The last true memory I have of her is from 1999 when I took her to a Dervish concert (Irish music) in Pittsburgh. She practically danced in her seat the whole time. She wasn't even five feet tall, but her spirit was huge.
That sparkle has been extinguished for many years now. Alzheimers took her mind and spirit long before her body died, but I still feel incredibly sad to know she's really gone. And her husband Sam will be devastated. I don't know how he's going to keep going without her. Their friends have slowly disappeared, unable to cope with Marie's slide. Grandma was always the social butterfly, and Sam was the cranky old man with the heart of gold.
I'm worried about how that heart's going to hold up through this.
But wherever Grandma is now, it has to be a better place than the one she'd been trapped in for the last eight years. So I'm going to picture her in her gingham square dancing dress with the fluffy petticoats and that impish grin and twinkling eyes.
I hope you're dancing with all the handsome young men. I hope they can keep up with you.