01 June 2010

Mary Merchant, 1919-2010



My maternal grandmother passed away Saturday night. It was expected, as her body had been slowly failing her for quite some time. Her health was, in fact, one of the main reasons for my visit in March, as I knew it was likely that I wouldn't get another chance to see her. Hospice was called in a few weeks ago, and being the phenomenal organization they are, they were a tremendous help in easing her transition from this existence to the next.

As is often the way of grandmothers, my Manana (a moniker that came from a cousin's faltering attempts at saying "my Nana", and which a younger cousin would much later shorten to Menah) was an exceptional woman. She was her high school's valedictorian (a new young state senator by the name of Strom Thurmond gave the commencement address) and star girl's basketball player and, according to my grandfather, was the best bareback mule racer in the area.

The photo above is from just after their wedding in 1936, which was just 5 days after her 17th birthday. They first lived in a cabin across the road from her parents, where they had their first child, and from which she went out the next day to work in the fields. It was the Great Depression, and not working was a luxury they couldn't afford.

A few years later, when they bought land about a mile down the road and built the home she would spend the rest of her life in, she and my grandfather fenced in 80 acres of pasture working side-by-side. Having fenced in a smaller section of that same pasture, I know very well what a feat it was, but their relationship was always one of equal partners, and it was from her that I learned about the grace and beauty of a strong woman. Even as her body betrayed her, she maintained her wit and her ability to laugh, but she knew it was time to go and she was ready for it.

Yes, I will miss her dearly, because how could you not miss someone so fiercely wonderful? But it's a bittersweet sort of loss, because in the end there's so much of her in me and in everyone else whose lives she touched. And I can't think of any tribute more beautiful than keeping that part of her alive and sharing it with everyone in my own life. Because again, how could you not?

32 comments:

Rabbitch said...

How could you not, indeed? A lovely post.

Manise said...

What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother!

Michelle M. said...

What a touching memorial - your Manana sounded like a truly amazing woman.

Paul said...

A beautiful post. Thank you for sharing a little of her with us.

Carole Knits said...

She sounds like an amazing woman. I'm sorry for your loss.

Danielle said...

Mel, this is so touching. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman, and you are lucky to have had her in your life for so long.

KSee said...

You were very lucky to have your Grandmother for all your years. what a beautiful tribute

Tam said...

Beautiful post Mel. She sounds like an amazing lady.

Safe travels today as you had down to be with your family.

Laritza said...

Lovely tribute. Keep her alive in you.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's VERY nice...and told me a lot about your grandmother that I did not know. She was very special and I can see a lot of her in you. She will definitely be missed, BUT her memories will last forever.
Love, Aunt Fran
OOL

Jabacue said...

Mel, your tribute to your grandmother was lovely. Her spirit will live on in you, I'm sure. A great testament to a wonderful woman.

Norma said...

Beautiful, as was she. She went the way I hope to go -- with my wit still intact, but knowing that I'm ready -- and leaving indelibly good marks behind.

Java said...

I am sorry for your loss, yet grateful for her life, obviously well-lived.

JelliDonut said...

That was beautiful. Thank you.

kmkat said...

She lives on in you and your cousins. What a wonderful woman she must have been!

tracy said...

Thank you for a beautiful story. i am so glad i found your blog through your beautiful comment on "Serneity Now".
Bless you.
tracy

Yarndude said...

She sounds like a wonderful woman, Mel. I'm sorry for your loss.

JoVE said...

She sounds like an amazing woman. Glad to hear her passing was as comfortable as possible. Sounds like you have many wonderful memories to keep her alive.

Chris said...

What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother, Mel.

anne marie in philly said...

my thoughts are with you. she sounds like an amazing woman. keep her spirit alive within you and she will live forever.

sue said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute to your grandmother -- thanks for sharing a bit with us.

Lisa/knitnzu said...

Aw, geesh, Mel, you are bringing a tear to my eye! She is lovely and he is handsome. I think you look like her, do you? (something around her eyes or her mouth?) Amazing the responsibilities people took on so young, isn't it? I was blessed to be with one of my grandmothers when she died. There's something about living a full life and leaving it, that is sad and yet still full of grace. Big hugs to your mama, and to you.

Anonymous, too said...

Delurking to add my condolences.

Mo said...

A perfect and quite beautiful tribute, Mel. How very wonderful that we all get to enjoy her spirit through your blog postings. Thanks to both of you!

tornwordo said...

How could you not indeed. Lovely. My condolences to you.

desiknitter said...

She sounds like a wonderful, remarkable woman. My sincere condolences, you will miss her a lot, even though hers sounds like a life very well lived!

Fredda said...

She clearly affected your life with her love and presence, and ours through your loving words.

Wishing you peace.

textillian said...

Lovely tribute, Mel. I am sorry for your loss.

MollyBeees said...

(((Hugs)) Mel. You were so lucky to have such a specail lady in your life!

Homer said...

She sounds like a remarkable woman, I am glad you got to spend some time with her. XO

Laurie said...

That is a remarkable eulogy. You were very fortunate to have her in your life.

Janet said...

A very appreciative tribute Mel. When are you going to add to your family history blog?
Janet