This photograph was taken in 1914. There's my mother on the left, my aunt in the middle, and my grandmother on the right.
My gramma is the only grandparent I ever knew. She was almost 70 when I was born, so I only remember her as an old woman, an old woman with arthritic knees who walked with a cane, who ironed her sheets on a mangle, who listened to radio soap operas as she baked applesauce cake and pumpkin pies, who cross-stitched beautiful tablecloths and played a mean game of 500 Rummy. She died in 1971, age 87.
My Aunt Ruth was an amazing woman. She put herself through college -- the first woman in the family to do so -- and worked because she wanted to. She was a stickler for good grammar, played excellent bridge, and travelled all over the world. She was a lifelong liberal Democrat and got madder at George W. Bush than anyone I know. She died last year, age 96.
My mother... ah, my sweet mom. She's three in this picture. She's loved us all fiercely, protectively, maddeningly. She worries over us all the time. She took care of my pop for four long years as he died by inches. And now, she's in the hospital again. I found out tonight when my sister called. It's diarrhea, the most embarrassing ailment. It's congestive heart failure, making her gasp. Yet she called the ambulance herself, not wanting to bother us. Can you imagine? I went to see her as soon as I got the word, and she told me that the male nurse was nice, but the woman nurse was bossy, and would I please call Joyce and apologize because she ruined the bridge game today? Could she be dying this time? She's 95, after all. She wondered that herself, tonight. What do you say to that, except "please don't -- not yet."
So there you have it, for this Love Thursday: three strong women, whom I love, across time, across death. For always.