I promised her I'd come back to visit with my daughter...
We have always celebrated my Grandmother's Birthday in the graveyard, with chocolate cake, but this year I went alone. I brought cake. But it didn't taste as good. I felt so sad. For the first time.
I always feel sad and miss Gramma like crazy, but this was that disappearing kind of sad. I believe that, when someone's Story ceases to be told - they disappear.
I sat on her grave (it's a bench), licking chocolate frosting off my fingers, and realized that she was the only family I still had, in Warner, that I could visit. Maybe that's why I feel so "dis-appear-y" too?
Last year, I went sort-of-alone. The Fireman came with me at the last minute. But that made me start thinking about how I needed to write a story about my Gramma so she doesn't really disappear. I made notes... and one year later, I've done nothing. I can remember sitting at the drafting table in my new studio, at the Community Arts Center, writing and sketching - as if it were yesterday. And here I am ONE YEAR LATER.
To torture myself, I searched back through Facebook and this blog to find all the posts I'd written about our celebrations in the Graveyard - and they are mostly joyous occasions. And I also realized - it's been TEN YEARS of parties!
To make myself feel better and so she is not forgotten - at least - not this year - here is a retrospective of the past ten years. With links to the original posts. And with quotes. And my favorite pictures from that party...
2009 - Goodbye
My Grandma Magda died yesterday.
I am glad that I took her to California to visit my brother. I'm glad I took her to Arizona to visit her best friend. I wish I had forced her to go to Estonia to see her family again. It's so ironic - she was afraid she might die there and have to be shipped "home". That was ten years ago.
2010 - A Grave Situation
...I mean, she was buried in a tote bag for goodness sakes...
And on others [in the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris], there were small piles of rocks. I suppose it is a way of saying, "I was here and I miss you."
My grandmother shares her headstone with her mother-in-law, Jenni, her husband, Johannes, and her baby daughter, Merike. Jenni and John are actually buried somewhere on Long Island and Merike had been in a mass grave in Germany. But she was... "removed"... when a large highway was built. It's nice to have them all together again in Warner, even if it is only in name.
2010 - Good Times in the Graveyard - [How it began]
[The bear would] dream about a lady with lovely smooth, pink skin, mischievous blue eyes surrounded by laugh lines, and the heart of a bear. And for that minute, the bear would wonder 'Am I a woman dreaming of being a bear, or a bear dreaming that I am a woman?' And my Grandmother would look down from where she is watching and have a good laugh.
2011 - Graveyard Bash
On my Grandmother's Birthday, we marched off to the cemetery for a little visit and some cake. Of all the holidays and traditions that families can follow or create, this has become one of our favorites. So, welcome to our Second Annual Grandma Magda's Birthday Celebration.
2013 - Graveyards, Bugs and ... Whoopie Pies.
[this one has MAGGOTS!]
And just to prove that I have perfectly normal kids... Alex teased Lilah about who-knows-what and she proceeded to pelt him with the bag of dirt. Alex enjoyed it immensely. Ok, maybe they aren't normal.
2014 - Happy 100! [One of my favorites!]
But, alas, Alex is the Gramma... er... grammar... police in any language. Especially chocolate.
But he is also an excellent big brother. He spells correctly, but he let his sister have the last Kiss.
2015 - Happy 101th!
Gramma Magda was an amazing lady who once rescued her mother-in-law from a concentration camp.
Show of hands... how many of us would do that? Exactly.
Happy Birthday Gramma Magda. I miss you so much. The chocolate cake is very yummy, but celebrating your birthday alone this year made me miss ya so much more. But... I also started getting an idea for a graphic novel...
Happy Birthday Gramma Magda. Vanaema. I miss you so much.
This is the first time I have celebrated her birthday completely on my own. I didn’t even have to share the chocolate cake.
I would have preferred to share the cake.