Friday, November 14, 2008

My Situe

"You can't live two lives."was advice from my Situe that I heard many times. So, true!

Situe is (was) my paternal grandmother and the last of her generation. At about 5 a.m., November 14th, Situe quietly slipped from this earth. She has gone home. Gone home to Popue (my grandfather who passed in 1990). Gone home to her seven sisters who preceded her. Gone home to the Lord.

I will miss her dearly. I feel fortunate to have known this wonderful, generous lady for forty five years. I am grateful that Theo and Khairi, my own children, had an opportunity to know her. My brother, Greg, spoke very eloquently about Situe and Popue's legacy. They were totally devoted to family. Looking around at those who were able to attend the funeral mass, their legacy was obvious. I see it in how my parents raised us... dinner together every night, with home cooked food, at the table, with no tv... Something I do in my own home, but has become a rare practice in today's world. Church on Sunday... Living within your means... quietly giving to help others...leading by example.

I have so many memories...

As children, my sister and two brothers spent a lot of time at Situe and Popue's house on Fleetwood in Harper Woods, Michigan. My dad and Pop started an auto parts business together around 1958. My uncle joined the company some years later. My mom worked from home and handled all of the finances, payroll and legal issues. At least once a week, Situe would arrive, goodies in hand (usually cookies and as my brother, Greg, mentioned at the funeral, Heavenly Hash ice cream), to help Mom with the banking.

Sunday dinners at Situe and Popue's. The dining room table would be set with china, table cloth, cloth napkins- all her best things. The meals were elaborate... standing rib roast, grape leaves, kibbee, salad, mashed potatoes, and homemade pie. Situe rarely sat down for long. Always getting up to grab something from the kitchen... milk for Uncle Roni, olive oil for the kibbee, more bread, Vernor's ginger ale for us kids.

This weekend, my mom mentioned that she was Situe's favorite. We all felt that way. She was the most loyal and fair person in the world. She had a spirit of service and wanted everyone to be included. If she gave one of us something, she always made sure that she gave the same to the others. At Christmas, she would give each of us money and a gift to open. One year, we all recieved gloves, another year, it was scarves and still another, umbrellas. As we got older and moved into our own houses and apartments, it was a soup ladle or kitchen towels.

I loved her way of greeting us when we entered her house. We always entered through the side door into the kitchen. Situe would usually be wearing an apron and would be wiping her hands from washing them as we came into the kitchen. Her hands would still be damp as she took our faces into her hands and kissed us.

We used to tease her about the index finger on her right hand, which was crooked... "which way are you pointing?" we would say. She would good-naturedly join in the laughter. As I held her hands in her last days, I thought about her hands... strong, sturdy, always outstretched to help others.

In order to distinguish between Situe and my great grandmother, we would call Situe "Good Situe" and my great grandmother "Old Situe"

Situe loved gardenias. She loved to play poker (and win!). She and Pop loved to have parties.

She would bake this incredible, triple layer german chocolate cake once a year-- for my birthday. I remember purposely eating as little dinner as possible so I would have room for a whole piece of that cake!

Last night, I dreamt that we were back at her house on Fleetwood. I remember every room of that house. After Pop passed, some of her furniture was moved to her apartment. Whenever I was there, I would always remember where a particular piece had been placed in the house. The little rocking chair with the crushed velvet seat that my great grandmother used to sit in was in the living room next to the couch. Her coffee table with the green, covered glass dish that was always filled with Brach's candy (butterscotch, peppermints, coconut neopolitans). The marble-topped table that was in the living room against the wall that led to the bedrooms.

She lived almost 97 years and was healthy the vast majority of it. Her mind had been slipping in the past couple of years and she had arthritis, but many times when my boys and I would visit, she was happy and alert.

She came to me in a dream the other night. She was wearing a turquoise sweater and looked so beautiful. Situe, I miss you already, but I know you are still with me and I love you!

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