A few weeks ago, while I was in Colorado, my Grandmother passed away at the age of 91. Marie Tobiason was a lot of things – a lover of roses, an avid reader, a devoted volunteer, a busy hobbyist, and a genuine Spitfire – but most of all she was the only grandmother I have ever known. We didn’t always agree on everything, her being 91 and all, but she did her best to overcome a tough road through life.
She was, without a doubt, the strongest lady I’ve ever known.
At a young age, her mother passed, and Grandma Marie found herself orphaned at one of the direst times in America: The Great Depression. She shared with me the three things she remembered most of that time in her life. One was “always being hungry,” another was “clothes were never thrown away, but given to others,” and the last was “being fed regular teaspoons of cod-liver oil.” As a young woman she worked as a secretary, and as a Navy wife during World War II, she did her country proud by working in a GI factory finishing walkie-talkies. As time went on, my Grandmother suffered many losses – the early death of my Grandfather from lung cancer, and the passing of two of her five children – but she soldiered on, never giving up on life despite its rough treatment of her.
Talking about her life and her experiences were my favorite memories with her, and it’s that cod-liver oil I’m convinced made her as resilient as ever. Because to live to be 91 on a diet of mostly rice pudding and Dunkin Donuts is quite a feat.
Today, we say goodbye for good, as we bury your ashes next to your husband and two sons. I know that my love of flowers comes from you, and I can only hope to have your unyielding strength through life’s challenges. Chocolate donut holes will forever remind me of you, and I’ll miss your crunchy mac & cheese, your loud laughter, and your handmade Trick or Treat bags.
Cheers to you, Grandma. I’ll see you on the other side. <3