Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | March 7, 2018

105 Years

Grandma and MikeI visited my grandmother’s grave today–as I do most years on her birthday.  She would have been 105.  We lost her in 2011 at the age of 98.

A long life such as hers has many advantages, especially for one who can maintain his or her health.  Grandma was active until the moment she died.  The day of her death, she walked from her apartment a couple of city blocks or more to the nearby Meijer store.  After doing some shopping, she walked back toward her house and stopped at a Burger King along the way for lunch.  Apparently, it was a typical Tuesday for her.  She was found late that afternoon by a neighbor.  She had collapsed in her bedroom, her coat still on and her shopping bag nearby.

It is often said of a person that he or she lived life on his or her own terms.  This was certainly true of my grandmother.  She lived alone and independent the last 30 years of her life.  She was an active senior citizen and fully engaged with her apartment community, her church, and her family.  She took a huge interest in her children and grandchildren, and was so proud of every one of their accomplishments–she was her family’s number one cheerleader.  Certainly, her family was her life.

Grandma was the family historian, telling stories of relatives and family life from years long gone.  She left a wealth of notes, letters, and newspaper clippings related to family members and friends.  I have the privilege to be the steward of much of this memorabilia, including the personal writings of her grandmother, Angela Matilda Donne Gibson.  She is the reason that I know so much about my paternal ancestors going back to Angela Gibson’s forebear, the great poet John Donne, who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries.

A few years ago, I did a series of video interviews with grandma in which she vividly and colorfully recalled some of the most interesting times of the early 20th century.  These videos are a family treasure today.

Grandma loved board games, she loved reading, and in her 80s and 90s she learned to use a computer, kept up with email, and had a Facebook page.  The Facebook page still lingers today.

It is said that those who remain in our memories never really die.  Grandma will, of course, remain in my memory for the rest of my life, and in the memories of my children and two of my grandchildren (her great great grandchildren) as well.  And as the years pass, as we relay stories of grandma to generations that follow, no doubt a part of her will remain alive here on earth for many years to come.

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