It's been a hard year.
Today the father figure's maternal grandmother died. Grandma Sugar, as he called her because she always called him "sugar", was a lovely lady. I didn't know her as well as Grandma Nonna. Grandma Sugar was a quiet, dignified woman. She was sweet and caring. Like Nonna, Grandma Sugar had six children, she too buried a child. And like Nonna, Grandma Sugar didn't let heartbreak defeat her. Rather, she took in her grandson and raised him herself.
Grandma Sugar had 14 grandchildren and who knows how many great grandchildren. Well, Grandma Sugar knew. I was always surprised when valentines and birthday cards arrived promptly. I knew there were plenty of great grandchildren out there, along with grandchildren and spouses, but Grandma Sugar didn't ever seem to forget. Her letters would come with quotation marks around the names, the only other person I've ever seen do that was her daughter, my mother in law.
I loved visiting with her and watching her interact with her grandchildren. She'd talk with them and chuckle with delight as they explained whatever it was they were super excited about. Once she offered two year old Mac a couple of Oreo cookies. Because she was indeed Grandma Sugar, she smuggled him two more while I was pretending not to look. Mac could not believe his good fortune and ran off outside. When we returned to visit the next day, Mac hurried outside and began digging in a planter in the back yard. He retrieved his contraband Oreos and settled down on the patio. It was impossible to see where dirt ended and the cookies began. I was flabbergasted (only a couple years into the world of boys) Grandma was delighted. She laughed until the tears came. "Such a smart boy!" I had a slightly different take.
She was wonderful woman who raised remarkable children. As Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis said "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much." Grandma Sugar did it right, which is why she mattered so much to us.
Rest easy Grandma.