Monday, January 9, 2012


This morning, my grandmother, the woman who raised me for a very formative period in my life, passed away.  I am going to sit here and cry for a few minutes so please indulge me as I remember such a wonderful woman.

On the way home from work this afternoon, she sent me a message.  Not a text or a phone call.  A technology more fitting her generation.  On a radio station I seldom listen to, a Pearl Jam song came on the radio. The song is called "Just Breathe". I am not a particularly spiritual person, but I knew (the moment I heard it) that it was from Grandma.

The first verse starts:
Yes, I understand that every life must end, aw-huh,  
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw-huh, 
Oh, I'm a lucky man, to count on both hands 
the ones I love...
The first lyrics are advice as if out of her own mouth.  "Just Breathe" is something that I could picture her saying.  I find myself telling my children, the things she told me 30 years ago.  "Take tiny sips from around the edges if your soup is too hot."

The entire song is below in the embedded video (complete with lyrics).  Feel free to press play, listen and read the rest of the post.

"Petzy", as she was known when she played cards (and she loved cards!  Bridge, Crazy 8s, Uno; it didn't matter), cared so deeply about her grandchildren and I am lucky to be counted among them.  She would pick the meatballs out of our alphabet soup and count them to ensure that both Greg and I got an equal number.  She would sit at the top of the stairs and knit when a 5-year-old Doug wouldn't settle down and go to sleep.  She and my grandfather dutifully drove me to school (along with my friends Tim and Jason).  She would dress me for church every Sunday and drag a comb through my hair (only if she could see my hairline now ...).

Did I say that I need you? 
Oh did I say that I want you? 
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see, 
No one knows this more than me

She knitted thousands of Christmas stockings for relatives, friends and complete strangers.  She told me once that she made one for a raffle and that the stocking raised over $1,000.  Yellowed with age, my Christmas stocking is one of my most prized possessions.
The Huber Family Stockings

I will miss her small house in Clymer, PA.  She would bake me zuchinni bread, "grandma's" cookies (which were sugar cookies with a fork impression on them) and pour my cereal in the morning (asking first, if i wanted a glass of orange juice in order to 'wake up') on our annual visits.  I remember her and grandpa sitting on their matching recliners drinking Top Hat (I may be imagining the brand) beer and watching sports.  Her German heritage did her proud.  I remember the cuckoo clock that hung in the living room.  Mine is at the repair shop right now.  My wife decided to dust it off and get it fixed about six weeks ago.  I am so glad she did.  I can't wait for it to come back.  It will mean more now than ever.

I hope I make it back to Clymer.  Our uncle is planning a small memorial service in the Spring there.  I associate her small town with her, Grandpa and my two Uncles (Tom and Terry).

I can picture her standing in the small galley kitchen in the back of their house.  She would wash the aluminum foil to reuse it; she would always tell me to be frugal and count my blessings.

I am so happy that I can carry on my grandmother's maiden name with Mason's middle name, "Ogden".
Grandma, Me and Mason in 2006

Most of all, I can remember, and will always feel, her unconditional love.  "Ahhh, you're a good one, Doug," she would say, understating how she felt, as she leaned over to hug and kiss me.  I owe a lot of who I am to both her and Grandpa.  She gave up a lot to move to Ohio to help run the family after my mother died.  What a selfless woman.  What an amazing woman.  I love you, Grandma.
Nothing, you would take,
Everything, you gave,
Love you til I die
Meet you on the other side.


Indianalori said...

Greg and I were so sad to hear this news. I was partially raised by my Grandparents, and when Grandma died unexpectedly a few years ago, a part of me went with her. I thought the grief might drown me, but slowly, I found ways to simply recreate her in my home. I make her recipes. I observe her traditions. I see her in Kelly's eyes. And she's with me almost every day. My grief turned to light, and while I still cry sometimes, I know we'll be together again.

Hugs to you and your family,


Anonymous said...

This is a great tribute.

May God be with you.


Sissi said...

We 3 here in Texas still hang our Petzy stockings up every year. Without them it isn't really Christmas. Hugs to you!