Average Jane

I Was Her "One and Only"

Grandma Ida’s Eulogy
June 25, 2006

“Now what?” Those were the only words I could come up with when mom told me that Grandma died. “Now what?” I can’t really tell you what I meant at the time, but those words have resonated with me since. “Now what?” Was it, “Now where will have thanksgiving dinner?” or “Now who will teach me to knit?” “Now who will teach me to make that vegetable soup that my mom can’t figure out?” or “Now who will deal the family blackjack game?”

Now, who will fill the void of tireless love and devotion that Grandma Ida filled?

I was my grandmother’s only granddaughter. She called me her “one and only”. What did that mean exactly? It means that I have the privilege of carrying on the tradition of exceptionally strong women in the Kaneff family. It means that I got to grow up with one of the best role models a young woman could ask for. Grandma Ida was strong willed, spirited, and driven. She lived every single day to the fullest and all but insisted that I did the same. Just as she bragged about her grandchildren to everyone she knew, I would brag to all of my friends about my grandma. I would say, “My grandma goes to the casino every Wednesday and drives a Lexus… what does your grandma do?”

To say I was a bit of a free spirit may be an understatement. But no matter how far I strayed, no matter how I looked, or acted, no matter how angry I seemed or how sad I got, no matter how much I fought with my brother, no matter how much I disrespected my parents, no matter how much I cried, she loved me. She handed out some choice words at very appropriate moments, but they weren’t angry words. They were words of wisdom. She knew what I didn’t at the time, which was that I would grow up one day. I would look back and appreciate my family for all of its many faults. I would grow up to be the strong woman that she was, that my mother is, and that I will be.

Grandma had a dream… she wanted to live long enough to sit at the black jack table with all of her grandchildren. L., Z., and I all had the joy of playing with her at the tables in Atlantic City. On S.’s 21st birthday, I’d tell him to go to those tables, because Grandma will be there waiting. The first time I went to the casino alone without grandma at that all important anchor seat, I was petrified. I wanted to call her every hand. The dealers at the casino aren’t nearly as helpful nor patient as grandma was dealing at the dinner table. Granted, the other players weren’t between the ages of 7-15 like they tended to be at Grandma’s house. The grand prize was always $1 as I recall. But I wouldn’t necessarily know; I never won.

I wasn’t able to see Grandma Ida much throughout the years. We lived in DC, I went to school in Miami, and moved across country for my first job, but when life brought me back to DC I tried to go to Philly when I could. It wasn’t enough, but would it ever be?

I did see her this past Sunday at Aunt Rose’s unveiling. I hadn’t seen her in quite some time, and didn’t know what to expect. It was a shock to see her, this strong woman, so tired and weak. Her body had let her down, but her mind was sharp. I knelt down before brunch and said “Grandma, it’s Jane.” She opened her eyes. “It’s your brother’s birthday today,” she said. “I know,” I replied. Then she looked right at me and said “You look beautiful.” I told her I loved her, and she said she loved me. I knew she loved me. And I loved her.

I guess the answer to the question “Now what?” is simple… Live. Live life as she lived life. Fully. Everyday. Live and love and enjoy every moment.


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