my grandmother, 1967
She was brilliant, and beautiful. She was brave. She played the piano like a dream and she once got dragged home by her father when he caught her dancing at a party. She left her tiny hometown and went to college, and then on to get a master's degree at a time when many women didn't do either. She brought friends home who were the first non-whites most of her small-town neighbors had ever seen. She met a colorful, kindhearted, temperamental sailor from Buffalo and skipped her commencement to marry him. She worked alongside him and then, after having three beautiful children, stood by him while he worked for social justice, first in Tennessee and then in Chicago, where they proudly stayed put during white flight and racial turmoil and the turbulence of life on the South Side. She was an avid gardener, a stickler for the truth, a passionate volunteer, a loyal friend. She could be rigid and proud, and she could be generous and forgiving. She taught me how to get all of the sweet nectar out of a honeysuckle, wrote me wonderful letters, saved me her Reader's Digests, and made the best cookies. She would have been 89 in a month. She was my grandmother, and I'm so grateful to have known her these 32 years.
To my Gram: xoxo.