Grandma Died Yesterday


Grandma died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.

Just kidding; it was yesterday, but I never get tired of that joke.

Grandma was 94 years old. She was quick-witted almost to the end.

She died at St. Jude Medical Center, the same hospital where I was born. She was 47 when I was born, the same age I am now. It’s the circle of life.


Grandma was a Presbyterian. Everyone else in the family, except me, is Catholic. The Catholic chaplain at St. Jude anointed Grandma before she died. I’m not sure what that means, but I know that my mom asked the priests at her parish to do it and they wouldn’t because Grandma was not a Catholic.

“He said he was deeply sorry,” Andrew savagely caricatured the inflection, “but it was simply a rule of the Church.”

“Some church,” he snarled. “And they call themselves Christians. Bury a man who’s a hundred times the man he’ll ever be, in his stinking, swishing black petticoats, and a hundred times as good a man too, and ‘No, there are certain requests and recommendations I cannot make Almighty God for the repose of this soul, for he never stuck his head under a holy-water tap.’ Genuflecting, and ducking and bowing and scraping, and basting themselves with signs of the Cross, and all that disgusting hocus-pocus, and you come to one simple, single act of Christian charity and what happens? The rules of the Church forbid it. He’s not a member of our little club.

“I tell you, Rufus, it’s enough to make a man puke up his soul.”

— James Agee, A Death in the Family

One of Grandma’s brothers, who died at the age of 21 many, many years ago, is reputed in family circles to have had the highest IQ ever tested. Some family members believe he was the world’s smartest man, with the possible exception of Einstein.

How did he die? He stepped in front of a moving car.

True story.

There’s more to life than a high IQ, you see. I, for example, am a person of average intelligence, but I always look both ways before stepping into the street.


As we were walking out of the hospital last night, my wife, who’s Asian, said, “I’m not much about dying.”

“I’m not sure what that means,” I said.

“Chinese doesn’t like it,” she said.

She insisted on stopping at a restroom on the way out to wash her hands, not because of germs, but to get the spirits off. She made me do the same.

“You can’t bring that into the house,” she explained.

When we got home, she made me take all my clothes off and run them through the washer.

  2 comments for “Grandma Died Yesterday

  1. 18 Aug 2006 at 3:11 pm

    HI…sorry to hear this, actually. She sounds like a great lady.

  2. Miamista
    20 Aug 2006 at 2:19 am

    Sorry to hear that also. My condolences. BTW I have the same story in my family about the genius. My Mom told it to me; I believe b/c I always tested very well and performed well in school generally but still was purported to be lazy by some teachers. I never really believed the story, though she still insists on it, with the flourish of unverifiable detail. Is this something they teach in Momma school or is there something else going on? 😉 Oh yeah, love the blog from what I’ve read.

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