Last night my mother and aunt hosted a dinner party to honor my grandmother, in lieu of a memorial service. In addition to my mother and aunt, we had two families who had been friends of my grandmother’s for decades, friendships that had started with the parents and grandparents of those present.
It was a really nice occasion on every level and especially entertaining because my grandmother’s lawyer, Pete, told a handful of amusing stories about my grandmother’s sense of what was proper and improper about his business attire when he visited her. Pete was the third generation of lawyers in his family who had served my grandmother, and he drew the hardest duty in being the last. Not only did he manage all of her finances for the last 3 years, but he also managed her health care appointments because all of us in the family live 3,000 miles away.
The man is a saint, patient, good natured, philosophical about the extent of his duties, right down to waiting with the body while the funeral home came to the apartment. We were all extremely fortunate that he was willing to shoulder the responsibility.
My grandmother was demanding and particular, but she was also grateful and gracious towards those who assisted her. She lived long enough to appreciate those on whom she had to depend.
The other family included the surviving son of my grandmother’s best friend and his wife. They are very busy people, with substantial business and philanthropic responsibilities, and they are leaving tomorrow for a Hawaiian vacation. In some sense, this dinner was a duty, but they all performed it with lighthearted grace and kindness.
It was a wonderful tribute to my grandmother, to her indomitability and character that these friends have remained faithful for 50-70 years. It was also a tribute to their constancy to her and to us, the kind of support that we can’t ever repay.