For my Grandmother Amy, with Love

I have so many memories of my grandparents – some of which I wasn’t even around to experience. The family stories, the iconic ancestors, the inside jokes and traditions passed from generation to generation – sometimes it’s hard for me to remember where my memories begin and where the stories from before my time are interwoven, becoming a comforting crazy quilt of history that is uniquely us – my family.

Amy and Paul, my grandparents, beautiful couple, pictures from the 1950s, losing a grandparent, midlife, empty-nest, baby boomer

Amy and Paul

My grandmother Amy died on Friday, October 19, at the age of 98. She left us peacefully, cared for in her last days by people who loved her – two of her three children, two of her six grandchildren, caregivers, hospice nurses – each of whom was deeply moved and affected by Amy’s life, and by the loss they felt when she passed away. Across the country were the rest of us, sitting vigil from afar, comforted by the knowledge that if there was anyone who had lived life the way it should be lived, it was Amy.

I have never met a person who had as much joy and love to share with the world. I can count on one hand the times I saw her angry, and I don’t think I ever knew her to be pessimistic about anything. She felt deeply about those she loved, and worried terribly about all of our happiness and the well-being of every one of us on a daily basis. Though she looked as glamorous as could be, inside she was a true “bubbe” (Yiddish for grandmother).

For me, losing Amy isn’t just losing a grandmother. In many ways when I was growing up, I was practically another one of her children. With two young kids of her own (nine and twelve) when I was born, I was embraced as part of the brood. I most certainly had loving and wonderful parents of my own, but these other four people – Amy and my grandfather Paul, and my uncle Jon and Aunt Susie – were kind of a bonus family for me, and my brother two years later. There wasn’t ever any sense, at Amy and Paul’s house, that we were just visiting – we were theirs, too. It was wonderful.

amy and paul's house, my grandparent's house, the house I loved, childhood home, midlife, empty-nest, baby boomer

Amy and Paul’s house

We watched a video when we were all together last weekend that my Uncle  had made for Amy’s 90th birthday celebration. A history of her life through old movies, more recent video, still pictures, and of course, as always, music, it exquisitely captured Amy in all of her beautiful Amy-ness. Her appreciation of attention was endless and always entertaining. Give her a hat and a scarf and suddenly she was singing show tunes. Ask her a question about her parents and grandparents and you were captive for far longer than you expected, listening to tales of her beloved parents, sisters and brothers. An accomplished interior designer, she loved to advise on how to decorate your home. You could find yourself spending money you shouldn’t have on things that transformed a room completely. Their glamorous friends looked like they had stepped out of an episode of “Mad Men,” dressed to the nines for a garden party, cocktails in hand.

What a life she lived!

I will never see her again, or hear her lovely voice saying “Sharon dah-ling” in only the way she could, but I will remember her in these things:

-animal print anything
-lemon cake
-the New York Times
-blue and white and yellow
-a mildly dirty joke
-the scent of lilac and lavender
-a beautifully set table
-bargain shopping
-the democratic party – she was a lifelong liberal
-the smell of the ocean
-a midday nap
-Broadway musicals

When my grandfather was a young man in the music business, his company published the music to the song “Once In Love With Amy,” from the Broadway musical “Where’s Charley?” On the cover of the sheet music, they featured her picture. The story goes that late one night he brought home dozens of copies of the sheet music and hung them up all over their apartment in Forest Hills, New York to surprise her when she woke. This is family history, this is legendary.

Once in love with amy, grandmother amy, losing a grandparent, sheet music, memories, family history, midlife, empty-nest, baby boomer

Amy on the cover

About 15 years ago, I saw the musical Showboat for the first time and was enchanted by the operatic score. When I told Amy about seeing the show, she told me that the song “Why Do I Love You” from that show always made her think of me, sung in one scene by a grandmother to her infant granddaughter. If you listen to the lyrics, you can hear the love I always heard coming from her heart.

This video features many of my family members, all of whom will miss Amy as much as I will.

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26 Responses to For my Grandmother Amy, with Love
  1. Grown and Flown
    October 23, 2012 | 7:24 am

    This is the most beautiful story, Sharon. You and the women of your family have been truly blessed. The video takes us all back through your life, and recalls our own. Thank you.
    Grown and Flown recently posted..The Tragedy Behind my Class ReunionMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 23, 2012 | 5:31 pm

      Thanks so much. We are blessed, and we are fortunate to know it and appreciate it.

  2. Risa
    October 23, 2012 | 7:55 am

    A lovely woman and such beautiful memories! This is a wonderful tribute to her. I’m sure your family will keep telling those stories for many generations to come.

  3. Debi Drecksler
    October 23, 2012 | 8:42 am

    I have enjoyed all your stories about your family. Your Grandparents were very special and it is obvious that they had a tremendous impact on your life. Has anyone ever told you that you have a striking resemblance to your beautiful Bubbe? p.s. I loved the video and yes it brought tears to my eyes. Hugs, Debi

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 23, 2012 | 5:32 pm

      Thanks so much Debi. I wish I looked like my grandmother! I actually am much more my father’s daughter – but I appreciate the compliment!

  4. Laurie
    October 23, 2012 | 10:20 am

    What a great tribute to Amy. The video was really something special and made me cry!!! You are blessed to have such a wonderfuly family.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 23, 2012 | 5:30 pm

      Thanks Laurie – I’d have to say the same about your wonderful bunch too!

  5. anita
    October 23, 2012 | 11:04 am

    What a beautiful video of all of you and Amy…..Amy will be a part of everyone that was so blessed to know her. As much as she gave you, your family gave her such happiness, memories and so much love. She will be missed by many. Your tribute was so meaningful and the video truly captured her beauty, both inside and out. Sending hugs and kisses to all of you.
    Anita and Alan

  6. Denise Danches Fisher
    October 23, 2012 | 1:20 pm

    Beautifully written and what a tribute to your gorgeous (inside and out) Grandmother!

  7. Sarah Hodge
    October 23, 2012 | 1:33 pm

    Your memories have allowed Amy to live on in our of our hearts. Thank you! From Susan’s sister Sarah

  8. Thekla
    October 23, 2012 | 1:34 pm

    You write so beautifully with sensitivity and love. You and Amy were both so fortunate to have each other and she will always be with you in your life and in your heart.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 23, 2012 | 5:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Thekla. I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my blog.

  9. Pauline Gaines
    October 23, 2012 | 2:30 pm

    Oh, what a rich family history you have! Your grandmother sounds wonderful. You’ve painted such a vivid portrait of her.
    Pauline Gaines recently posted..Life on the Margins at Private SchoolMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 23, 2012 | 5:28 pm

      Thanks Pauline~ she was quite a sensational woman. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  10. Ginger Kay
    October 23, 2012 | 3:22 pm

    What lovely memories, Sharon! Your family sounds like they are a great comfort to each other.
    Ginger Kay recently posted..Conversations with my daughter, about shoesMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 23, 2012 | 5:24 pm

      Yes, we have helped each other through many trying times – but the laughs far outweigh the tears!

  11. Kathy gold
    October 23, 2012 | 4:17 pm

    this is beautiful. I loved watching the video and seeing your entire family. Your grandmother must have been a very special woman. What a blessing to have such a wonderful relationship and so many beautiful memories. May they live on forever.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 23, 2012 | 5:23 pm

      Hi Kathy – she was amazing. Her house in GNE was my second home. Hope all is well with you. Love!

  12. vicki morgan
    October 23, 2012 | 4:29 pm

    Your mom, Judy, and my sister, Nancy have been friends forever. I haven’t seen your Grandmother for 50 years. But I recall standing on that Great Neck lawn as a preteen and thinking what a handsome and gracious couple Pauand Amy were. And I knew your mom since I was little and always think of her with a big smile. You are blessed to have such a wonderful family and loving memories. Amy and Paul are together again. This is an opportunity to be happy for them. And happy that you had them as part of your life.
    Vicki Lederer Morgan….Nancy Lederer Hoffman’s sister.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 23, 2012 | 5:23 pm

      Vicki, did you go to Birchwood like your sister and my mother? I went there ’71-75. So sweet of you to share your memories of my family. Thanks for reading.

  13. sue
    October 23, 2012 | 5:01 pm

    I dearly love this story you have shared with us and the video was lovingly done. Thank you for sharing your family memories.
    sue recently posted..Field of Dreams Movie HouseMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 23, 2012 | 5:22 pm

      Thanks for reading, Sue. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  14. Carol
    October 24, 2012 | 2:49 am

    Oh, Sharon…thank you for posting this beautiful tribute. I feel so blessed to have known Amy thru the years. She lives on in you and your family and that will always be. I’m so glad she’s finally at peace, reunited and singing with Paul and her family of origin. Much love to you and yours.

  15. mindy
    October 30, 2012 | 12:48 pm

    Sharon, She was quite a lady…a beautiful part of your family puzzle. I’m glad I knew her. (And I think I was even one of the lucky ones who got to hear her “perform.”)
    mindy recently posted..Laughter as a Form of ExerciseMy Profile

  16. Carolyn Rurka
    October 30, 2012 | 5:01 pm

    Sharon, I see your grandmother in you , I think it’s the eyes. I know she will be missed.

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