Yesterday my Grandma passed away.She lived in Alaska her whole life, and so I saw her every few years as we visited my Mom’s extended family to visit. I was named after her, but I dropped the “I" in Jackie in middle school. When she saw my new spelling, she dubbed me “Jacki with an ‘I’.” and never let me forget it.
Obviously she was much more to our family than an occasional visit. I heard about her all the time from my mom. I heard stories of a young mother doing her best on a mining camp, shoveling out her second story window so they could walk out on the snow. I heard stories of a woman leaving her husband, in a time when that was not socially acceptable. I heard stories of a mother having babies the same time as her oldest daughter. I heard stories of love and heartbreak, of hard work and duty to her six children. She wasn’t perfect, but she did the best with what she had. She joked that her kids were going to get her into heaven, all her daughters are religious and spiritual.
From my visits to Alaska, walking into her house was like walking back in time. She was OCD about everything in that house, where the vintage cracker tins sat above the cupboards, which afghan hung on the back of the chair. I remember sitting upstairs, looking at the books from my mom’s childhood, the foot pedal singer sewing machine, the huge quilts and the all the antique crocks. Jackie had a huge wood fire burning stove in her home, where she served us moose meatloaf on my honeymoon. When John said it was the most delicious meatloaf she said “Don’t try to brown nose now.” Her bathroom smelled like Ivory soap and tobacco, she tried to sneak smoking in there, like we didn’t know. Her garden was huge, full of lettuce and potatoes and her flower garden with lines and lines of snapdragons. She hated when the summer humidity made her take her sweatshirt off while gardening, she was accustomed to Alaska weather through and through.
Grandma Jackie had a close relationship with my cousins who lived next door, always there to watch over and entertain or put them to work. She had a path through the woods to their house, something I loved walking through as a visitor, it made her property so much like a setting in a storybook. My mom started printing pictures of my kids off the blog and sending it to her, it always touched me that she would ask about my kids and wanted to see pictures. She has so many grandchildren and great grandchildren, and a few great greats, I thought we might be lost among them as the far flung kids in the lower 48.
Her last few years have been plagued with hospital visits from her ailing liver. I am glad she’s free from the pain and suffering she’s endured from the last few years. I hope she is at peace with her husband and their friends that she’s watched go before her. Rest in Peace Grandma Jackie.