Remembering Dubbie, my sweet grandmother who passed away last month.
It breaks my heart to be writing this post.
Last month on Dec. 12, 2019, we said goodbye to my grandmother of 92. We called her Grand Dub, and today would have been her 93rd birthday.
The photo above sits on my dresser, and it really seems like our wedding photographer snapped it just the other day. It was just four months ago.
Her death has affected me so deeply, so I wanted to take a moment to share a little about her and celebrate her life here on the blog.
She was my only grandparent left to be with us at our wedding, and I feel so lucky she was with us on our big day. So many of our wedding guests have commented to us in the last few weeks that they loved watching her dance at our reception.
(That’s little me up there, by the way.)
Everything she did, ever, was with joy. She absolutely adored helping others, whether it was through volunteering, teaching school, making a donation or buying the meal of the person in line behind her at the drive-thru.
When we were putting the finishing touches on our wedding day plans, I asked Grand Dub if she could pick up the macarons that would top our wedding cake the day before. The bakery was very close to her house and she was so happy to help.
She was meticulous, too. Concerned for the safety of our macarons, she drove them to our venue in a cooler and even did a test drive to the bakery two weeks before to make sure she knew how to get there! It makes me smile to remember that little detail of our day.
An avid participant in her community, she attended everything she could. Bridge club, book club, farmers markets, church dinners. She was the busiest woman I knew, and still had time to mow her own lawn and go to Zumba. Yes, even at 92 years old.
Even when she was still she would have her nose in a book or her eyes on the N.C. State football or basketball team on TV. (The biggest Wolfpack fan of all.)
I don’t think she knew how to not be busy! She raised five kids and I can’t imagine how busy that time in her life was.
A true Southern lady, she was also not one to miss anyone’s life event, and she always, always, always sent a card. I have boxes of cards, letters and newspaper clippings she sent over the years, that I may never throw away.
She once told me, “Always go to people’s birthday parties, weddings and funerals,” which is advice I intend to follow a lot better.
Grand Dub was fierce, stubborn and didn’t listen to anyone. She did things her own way. Just try telling her she shouldn’t mow her own lawn.
She got her nickname Dubbie because an aunt used to call her “lovey dovey,” and her little sister couldn’t pronounce it. So Dubbie became her nickname, and it stuck. Margaret Anne just wouldn’t do. When she became a grandma, she decided no typical grandma name would do either.
Grand Dub had the best stories. A few favorites:
When she was in South Africa for my parents’ wedding, she and my grandpa were sightseeing and pulled over near some monkeys — who you are definitely not supposed to feed. A baboon got into the car, snatched her purse from her and took a pack of crackers right out of her purse. He went on his merry way, but she was horrified!
As a teenager, she was invited to a party, but her father needed the car. Never taking “no” for an answer, she rode her bike 20 miles to the party, only to discover the party location had been moved. With no cell phones in the ’40s, she just had to ride her bike back home.
My favorite story of all is that she once snuck out to dance in a competition when she was a teen. She and her partner — a friend who took the train down to Charlotte all the way from Washington, D.C. — won the whole thing.
And the photo of them featured in the newspaper? She was captured sliding under his legs, her dress revealing a little bit of knee. So risqué! She was in so much trouble, I am sure.
A few weeks before she went into the hospital, she invited me to lunch on a weekday. I am not very good at taking lunch breaks away from my desk, but I couldn’t tell my grandmother “no.”
We had a great time chatting over quiche and she insisted on chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I’m so glad I went, but I rushed back home to get back to work. How I wish I’d stayed 10, 20, 30 minutes longer.
I think what hurts the most is that I thought we had a lot more years together. Her mother and grandmother both lived into their 100s, and I thought — I think we all thought — that she would too.
It not only feels like a present loss, but a future loss. No more spontaneous lunches, Zumba demonstrations at family gatherings or old stories to look forward to.
In a weird way, I’m so grateful I could spend some of her last days with her, in the hospital, rehab, the hospital again and lastly hospice. I wasn’t able to be present for my other grandparents’ last days, so this was a gift of its own.
But, I have a lifetime of memories I wouldn’t trade for anything. She was a force, and we will miss her so much.
If you’re interested in knowing more about her, here is her obituary.
I shared this on Instagram recently, but wanted to share it here too:
At her celebration of life, my dad told us that during her hospital stays, her nurses would ask her secret to making it to 92, and her advice was always the same: “Keep going.”
So that’s my motto and inspiration for 2020 and the decades to come, and I encourage you to do the same. Life is short. Hug your loved ones tight (especially your grandmas).
And stay a little longer if you’re invited to lunch. You never know when it will be your last one.
Thanks so much for all your kind words and messages. It’s definitely been a tough season for us, and it means the world that you are here. Keep going with me?
Happy birthday, Grand Dub. I miss you. // susannah
Wedding photos are by Mary Costa