I have often found as I got past my forties it was a bit odd that I still had grandparents. Most people say their final farewells as they enter their 20's or 30's - but my grandfather Huecker passed away when I had children, my grandmother Carter left us quite a few years later, Grandpa Carter in 2008 and just this morning my last remaining Grandmother - Grandma Henderickson. To say she was a character was putting it mildly, we certainly went around. Honestly, she drove me crazy at times, but some of her antics (and wildly politically incorrect views) are legendary. She was 4'11" on a good day which is how I became Julia - since I towered over her Little Julie just stopped fitting, but grandma was fierce despite her size. My mother once told me that when she was married to Grandpa Huecker they were out at a bar and some man insulted Grandpa. Since he had just had surgery she invited the man to step outside and from what I understand they had to pull her off him as she was whacking his head on the sidewalk. I remember the advice she gave me once - always do your dishes and your house will look clean, always wash your face before you go to bed and if you get in a fight with someone bigger than you get them on the ground - because once you're on the ground everyone is the same size. I remember this because I got in trouble in an English class for using this as "the most useful advice anyone has ever given you" (the teacher was sure I had made it up as she could not believe anyone's grandmother would say that to them!).
She was a very social person, Elks Club, Bingo - she loved it. Her opinions were strong, wildly incorrect at times and often made you wish she would lower her voice - but when you talked to another family member about her latest exploit, they could always top you. As I grew up and older we grew apart - she did not like the man I married and was quite verbal about it at times. But that was grandma. Moving away didn't help, she went into a nursing home after losing her sight and even though I saw her on my infrequent visits home, Christmas cards, distance moved me further. I do not speak to my father's family, we simply do not get along. There have been harsh words in the past on both sides - I take full responsibility for what I've said and always had, but some fences do not need to be mended, do they? My father asked me this morning if I would be coming home for the funeral and I told him no, it would be uncomfortable for me and I think other people would be too, it would be pointless. I'm amazed she made it to 99, that was quite a feat in itself, but Grandma always did know how to make an entrance - and an exit. And she certainly did give us all something to talk about.