Today I shall put everything normal in my life on the back burner, and tell you a tale that I can only hope you can relate to with someone in your life.
I just lost my grandmother, and after this hole in me was created, I can tell you…
Life is so precious and death is a thief. Hold on to the love created, it is the only part death cannot take from you. Otherwise, you feel empty.
There is no eloquence to it, I just miss her, a lot.
Let me introduce the legacy of my grandmother, Evelyn Selinsky. At a young age I begin spending a lot of time with her in her Northside home. We cooked, we played, we watched TV, and most importantly, we talked. The conversations could be as simple as what was on TV or what jellybean I was going to pick from her candy jar, to later in life involving career thoughts and life choices. Anything was fair game with her, and it turned into a place I frequented even later in life in times of stress or turmoil. Right there in her dining room in the middle of the Northside, I never felt safer. Even today, that feeling never passed. Together, I did not think there was anything we could not handle or solve, or at least enjoy talking about if nothing else. Now, for the first time in my life, I have to carry on without the safety blanket that my grandmother provided. I have her lessons and our memories, but the hole this created is deep.
My grandmother, one of the kindest souls I have ever known, could completely change herself to put you in your place. She was always looking for a compromise to settle ill situations, but if all else failed, she had no issue speaking exactly what she thought, with no remorse later. Issue. Resolution or attempted resolution. Move on. That was Evie’s motto. Anything in life can be fixed with a cold beer and a chair planted in the backyard, so state your piece and let her get back to it.
Now, let’s focus on that beer. My grandmother can outdrink you, period. I do not need to know you or anything about you. The woman easily put down 12-15 a day, on a good one, or a stressed one, 24-pack. In her mind, to get the right amount of water she needed, it was a lot more than 8 glasses of beer, so she handled it. Most time she did not even waste food getting in the way, and passed on dinner for a big lunch, that way the liquid diet had little interruption. She did have her sweet tooth though, which worked out great for me because there were always cookies on the table, candies in the jar, and ice cream in the freezer.
Now, to the kitchen, that Evie could cook. She cooked yummy food, well at least up until 87ish (when she occasionally started forgetting ingredients), and there was no such thing as anything to difficult or not fair game. She would make it, or make something close to it if you simply asked. She was famous for her homemade pierogies and pumpkin rolls, which though I helped with countless times, I could never emulate. She also always had fresh brewed tea made in the refrigerator and lemonade if you were really lucky. Cooking, cleaning, dishes, never a bother to her. In hindsight, maybe in her eyes each task was a reason to tack another beer onto her evening chill sessions.
In my eyes, throughout my entire life, the woman was a legend. She lost her husband when I was only six, so I knew her most of my life as an independent badass. She never considered moving from her 3-story house in Northside or at least downgrading to a ranch style. She loved the house, she made her life in that house, and she was proud of everything it and her stood for. She lived alone in it until she reached 91, and then things started becoming a bit difficult. The stairs became a trap due to her imbalance, the curtains she loved to change out became out of reach; the care she could once provide herself became no more. This was the start of the end I suppose, but in my eyes at the time, I figured it was a hurdle she just hadn’t quite figured out yet. Through all her she endured, I never thought the woman who I watched many times in my life hike up hills in the Northside with a case of IC Light on her back, would lose her mojo. I never thought the woman who walked 8 miles uphill to visit her sister on Perrysville Avenue would become weak. I never thought one of my favorite people, my hero, would ever give in. I honestly think I convinced myself time and time again, she would bury me. Seems odd, but her mother lived to 92, and she died when I was about 10, so with the advances made in the medical field, I thought she was a shoe-in to make it to 120, easy. =)
I guess looking back, she did enjoy nine lives regardless. She fell down steps many times that ended with hospital stays and broken bones. I once found her in her bedroom, unconscious and almost dead, to learn at the hospital she had to have a large part of her intestines removed and almost didn’t make it. I once saw her fall down an entire flight of steps, land head first on concrete, and still get back up. She had cancer, and won. She beat pneumonia. She had toes that were crooked, that at 89 she told me she wanted to have surgically fixed so she had the option to buy any shoes she wanted again. She survived the year of Covid. The woman never counted her years, so it was hard for me too. Until now, she was the most invincible human I had ever met, or probabaly will ever know.
My heart will always smile when I think about you.
My reality is I will not get over the loss of her, I will grieve her forever, I will just have to learn to live with it. I will move on from it, but I will never be the same. Something about her was my comfort zone, my safe place in life. She made anyday more doable and any problem seem solvable.
Today, I will leave you with this…
I always thought grief was a sad time, that could be defined, particularly following the death of a loved one. You push yourself and move on.
Now I can say this…
There is no pushing through. You have to accept and adjust. You do not simply complete grief as a phase, but you endure it.
Grief absolutely has the power to alter you, to present a new way of seeing.
For better or worse, I will now carry on without my safety blanket, but it will be a rare day in my lifetime I do not think of her, her spunkiness, her thirst for life...
Until we meet again,
Your Adoring Granddaughter Kelley