When my grandmother was little, she lived about three streets away from here. She watched people come here Sunday mornings, and she decided that she liked the look it. Of the meeting house, of the people, or of the religion, I don't know. But when she grew up and had kids, she raised them as Quakers, at State College Monthly Meeting in PA. I was born in that meeting, and grew up being Quaker, and knowing how much my grandmother valued Quakerism. When I started coming here, every time she asked if I had a meeting, and I told her I was attending meeting here, she would tell me again how she found Quakerism though this meeting.
She died Friday night, in her sleep. I will miss her.
Of course, there's a lot that I wouldn't have been able to say in the meeting. Like how she went back to school after her youngest, my dad, went to college. And she finished her BA and then got a PhD. And moved to New Jersey to teach. How we went to get her when she moved to my home town, and I was 8 or 9, and couldn't even remember what she looked like I'd seen her so rarely. She had loong hair, down to her waist, that she wore in a bun. When she moved to Lewisburg, she cut it short and wore it that way from then on. When I went to Italy on study abroad, I read a book called Mothers of Feminism, about Quaker women in the early days, and I wrote back to Libby about how brave these women were, to tell their husbands they were going ministering, and leave their children behind and travel the country on horseback, going to meetings and talking about god. And even the old women would do it! 75 years old, and traveling around ministering! And she wrote back and reminded me that she was 75, and moving to Philadelphia to work for the Quaker UN.
She was 85. She was living in a nursing home, in the first level of it (independent living?), and she was rapidly approaching the time when she wouldn't get her own apartment, just a room in the next level (assisted Living). (my father made a Dante reference here.) She had been getting more and more forgetful every time I saw her, but she approached it in a wonderful way, as suits a scientist. She was curious and interested in everything new to her, and everything was new to her. She'd say, "Now who are you?" to me, and I'd explain it all, including my parents, and their names, and their relationship to her. And she'd say, "Is your father here?" and look around interestedly. For a while she would write it all down, but that didn't really work because she'd just ask you the same thing again, and then write that down. The last time I saw her, I went with her and my uncle to Woods Hole, where she grew up, and she had a wonderful time. She knew everything! Where she'd lived, where other people had lived, how she had dated a boy with a motorcycle who lived over on the rich part of the bay, and her parents had disapproved. And she told me about her dad, who discovered the Redfield Ratio, and worked in the Woods Hole Oceanographical Institute, and showed us their house that is now part of the WHOI, and we had a wonderful day. And we drove back to my aunt's house, and got out, and she asked me again who I was, and I wondered if she had ridden the whole way back, wondering who I was in the back, and how it didn't matter to her at all. She wasn't scared or fearful of the unknown, she liked learning everything just as much every time.
I will miss her. But, I have been missing her for the better part of 10 years now, I think. Definitely 6 or more. I miss the grandmother I grew up with, and I am sad because even though that woman was gone, now she will never come back, not even for the split seconds i'd see now and then.