Saturday, September 10, 2011

Back to the Blogosphere, and maybe back to more

    I've been away from this blog a long time; these hollyhocks were in bloom the last time I posted an entry, and they were still in bloom when my grandmother died, surrounded by family, on July 2.

   These insistent, exuberant flowers remind me of her. She was a relentlessly positive person, an All-American girl, "raised on her promises" (thank you, Tom Petty.)

   Her death has been difficult for me to accept, and the inability to attend her funeral, due primarily to distance, has been yet another dimming, for me, of the brilliant expat life. While her death was not unexpected, it is nonetheless saddening, and to not have the closure of the funeral and time with my family after her death has only underscored a growing sentiment of mine: it's time to go back to the country of my origin. But more about that later.

   I emailed a eulogy of sorts to my family, and I am pleased to hear that my cousin Grace printed it and distributed it at the funeral, and that my father read a few words from it then, as well. I truly have been in mourning since she died, and my purpose in sharing this here, I suppose, is to have my own sort of cyber memorial for her. I am unable to write about Amsterdam goings on and so forth without first acknowledging the passing of this great lady who touched my life.

   This is my remembrance of Anita High Miller:

                    My grandmother Nete was everything you want a grandmother to be. She cared for me during many summers as I grew up. She always greeted me with a huge smile, and made me feel completely welcome and at home. She was pure love and happiness, warm and loving, breezy and laughing all the time. At least, to my four-year-old eyes, that's how it seemed.

                           I mostly associate her with this season, because it was usually July when I was visiting. I remember one summer I was sixteen, and staying with her and my aunt Anne and her family in Robesonia, Pennsyvania.

                        My cousin Marc went berry-picking with me one morning, and we brought home buckets of wild blackberries to her. To my astonishment, she had them rolled into a perfect home-made pie and in the oven in less than half an hour.
                    She explained that she had had a pie business for a while, and had learned to whip up a pie very quickly. At that point I realized that there was a lot more to this woman than what I knew, and I began to ask her questions about her life.  That summer, I learned about her romantic teen elopement, her life as a young bride on a working farm, and her family's general store.

                    She told me about feeding the vagabonds that would wander by the farm during the depression, and about being so confused about what to do with the livestock and everything that came with that life. She recounted all parts of her life with freshness and humor, and I realized then what a strong, pure voice in the world she is.

                    I am extremely fortunate to have her in my life for so much of my life. I am delighted that a few short years ago I was able to join in her jubilant 90th birthday celebration. She positively twinkled, surrounded by loving friends, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
                    This time of year has traditionally been when our family gathers for a reunion. This is when I usually was with her, going for long walks past the corn fields to the old furnace. "Swing your arms!" She would command, walking briskly with purposeful long steps.  I think she loved summer.

                    This is her time. This year, it was her time to go. Nete loved music and loved to sing. All the flowers are open and singing, and I like to think they serenaded her on her way to heaven. I'm sure, in her jubilant soprano voice, she joined right in.

     Goodbye, Nete, thank you for all the love.

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