Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 14: Helen

My grandmother, Helen, turns 94 today.  94.  Which is fantastic.

Her motto has always been everything in moderation.  I only remember her drinking at holidays and special occasions.  She ate desserts infrequently.  My grandfather smoked for years, but she never did.  She made him go outside to smoke.  She was big on walking, and was doing yoga before it went mainstream.  She had a yoga exercise record (yes, on vinyl).  She and her friends would listen to the record and do yoga in my grandmother's living room.

She and my grandfather traveled the world, visiting every continent.  They were active in their church,  and through a church program, hosted people from all over the world in their home too.  They were interested in cultures, people, the arts, learning.  They were taking college courses for fun in their 70s.  They read- and she still reads- constantly.

She grew up in New Jersey, but my grandfather got a job in Charleston, WV in the 1950's.  They moved, built a house, built a community and life for themselves, and they never left.  Their kids have left- my mother is in Maryland and my uncle is in Washington DC, but my grandmother is still in Charleston.  She is older and forgetful.  She hasn't driven in years.  She is preparing to move into an assisted living apartment in her retirement community.  But she prefers to stay in Charleston as long as she possibly can.  It's her home.

94 years is a long time.  She was married for almost 55 years.  Her kids grew up and did well for themselves.  She has three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren- soon to be six.  She has outlived her husband, her seven brothers and sisters, and many friends.  But she still has a lot of people in her life who love her and look out for her.

I look up to my grandmother.  She is a strong, sensible, practical woman.  She is opinionated and direct.  She is caring and thoughtful. She has done things her way, and I imagine, that she has few if any regrets at this point in her life.  She is amazing and I hope to live as rich and full of life as she has.  I should be so lucky.

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