Last night, on my way home from the gym (please note the clever way I managed to work the fact that I went to the gym into the very first sentence of my very first blog entry), my brother called. He asked me if I had a minute. I told him I did. After all, I was just “leaving the GYM.” And he told me that our grandmother had just passed away. This July, Florence Tufts would have been 103 years old. She died 40 years after her husband, and 38 years and 3 days after I was born.
She grew up in a small town in Canada in a very different time. I once read trivia about her and discovered that she had never ridden a bicycle (a fact I doubt has changed since). My best memories of her were visiting and staying in her house in Canada during summers as a boy. At the time, she lived in the tiny town of Taber, Alberta (home of Cornfest!).
If you haven’t heard of Taber, I’m not surprised. If you have heard of Taber, we might be related. One summer, she showed me a picture of her in the newspaper that announced her 80th birthday. I remember it being difficult for me to imagine being that old. That was 22 years ago, and I can now only hope I look that good at 80.
When I was a junior in high school, she came to my family’s house in California for Christmas. That Christmas Eve, my mom had to work at the hospital, so my dad decided to do something non-traditional. He packed the kids and my grandma into the suburban and we went to a movie: “Father Of The Bride.”
On our way home, my brothers and sisters talked about the movie. At one point, my dad pointed out that this was the very first time grandma had ever seen a movie in a movie theater. I was practically dumbstruck. Apparently, she had grown up in another time AND dimension. I turned to my grandma who, up until now, had been riding quietly in the back seat, and asked her what she thought of the entire experience.
“Well,” she said. “She decided to get married. And there was a lot of crazy stuff that happened. And a lot of people got upset. But when it was all said and done, she called her father and told him how much she loved him. And at the end of it all, that’s what really matters.”
*END SPOILER ALERT*
It’s easily one of the most memorable movie reviews I’ve ever heard.
When I was on my mission in the Philippines, I wrote my grandma a simple letter. Weeks later, while talking to my parents on the phone, my dad told me that my grandma called him to tell him about the letter and read it out loud, over the phone, in its entirety, no less than three times. He assured me that it wasn’t possible that anyone I know gets more excited to get a letter from me while on my mission.
A few years later, my grandma visited Provo while I was at BYU. At the time, I was performing in a sketch and improv comedy show. My aunts brought my grandma to see it. Afterwards, they told that my grandma didn’t understand what the show was about, but she knew I was doing things on stage, and that people were watching me and laughing, and she couldn’t have been happier.
Almost three years ago, my extended family had a reunion in Canada to celebrate my grandma’s 100th birthday.
During her party, she gave each of her grandchildren a Canadian $100 dollar bill (which, at the time, was worth $27,482.13 in U.S. currency).
She was my last grandparent to pass away, outliving the other three grandparents by decades, and she died peacefully and quickly in her sleep.
I’ve gotta say… that’s not a bad way to go.