All of me

Just another weblog

Tribute to Ida Jones – by Jennifer Fitzsimonds

on May 10, 2013

On Good Friday, March 29, my gramma passed away. She was 94 years old – turning 95 at the end of July. It was a shock. I mean, it wasn’t a shock that it was going to happen, but it was a shock that it happened that day. Since entering the hospital in December, my grandmother willed to die almost every day. Her wish almost came true a few times, but each day she woke up and accepted her time hadn’t come yet. What was so surprising was that the few days before she passed, she was getting stronger, and she was happier, more at peace with where life was taking her. (Looking back, maybe she was more at peace in knowing her time was coming to an end, and she couldn’t wait to see her husband, my grandfather, once again after being apart for 15 years). I feel so blessed that I was convinced by my mom to visit her on my way through town as I had come home for the Easter Holiday. I spent a good hour with her, as she watched my son, her great-grandson wobble along with my steady hands, and climbing around her bed. She laughed, smiled, and even asked how my husband was doing and what we had been up to. I remember as we were chatting, I asked if she like her new room (she had just been moved to an extended living facility within the hospital – but much brighter and nicer than the hospital room itself). She said yes, it was bright and she liked the big window she was by, but she wouldn’t be there long.  On April 5th we had a farewell – a celebration of life for her. As people waited for the service to begin, they played recordings that we had taken of gramma at the piano, her snappy gusto at the piano filling the funeral home. And at the end, as she had always wished, she was taken out as the room belted out “When the Saints go Marching in” and you couldn’t help but smile, and clap along to the uplifting tempo. My Auntie, her daughter, gave the farewell, which was touching and well done. I’d like to give my own farewell, through the eyes of the youngest granddaughter, on one of the people I looked up to and cherished the most in my life.

There has always been my Gramma. How lucky was I that my grandparents lived a mere 10 feet away from my door? I saw them every day, multiple hours during that day. I probably stayed around the house a little too much, which was evidenced in my grandpa shooing me away sometimes. My earliest and longest standing memory of gramma was two things. The first, listening to her playing the piano, and me marching and dancing around the dining room table in their house. The second, tea time. Every day at 3:30 I would go up to gramma’s for ‘silver tea’ (that’s when my tea was half milk as I was so young) and we would play Go Fish. I always drank my tea out of my own special cup – a clear glass mug with blue flowers and vines around it. She actually gave those mugs to me the first Christmas I moved away from home and are now lovingly kept in my own cupboard.

Her love for music was a great influence in my life as well. I wanted to play like gramma, and so, when I was seven and given the opportunity to do so, I started piano lessons. That brought on mini-concerts for her, as I would build my repertoire with songs I knew she would like and play them all summer. As I got more advanced, I would get requests for specific songs to learn how to play, or sometimes, when I was over, I would get my sight-reading skills put to the test as she would plop some music in front of me and tell me to play. When I was 11 or so, Gramma and I played together at my piano recital – it was called Bubblegum Rag and we brought down the house! The biggest song I ever learned for gramma was Maple Leaf Rag – which was composed by Scott Joplin. I was 16 and it was daunting. But, gramma wanted it, so I worked hard. From then on, every time I saw her, she asked for me to play Maple Leaf Rag – and I did.

There’s so many memories running through my head right now. I’m not sure where to begin, how to seguay, and with some, not even how to start with them. Just so many smiles.

She always had time for me, and all of us. Although, if there was something to do when you were over there, you had to do it. I seemed to always go up right after a meal – so I did a lot of dishes for them in my younger years. The late morning visits were the best, though, as it usually meant gramma was going to bake some cookies or pie or something. So I always got to help. Always got the clean out the bowl and lick the spoons and always got to do a taste test after they’ve come out of the oven.

One treat that I still enjoy today is crust pie. It wasn’t really anything. We just took what was left of our pie dough, put it in a little pie pan (I think it was an easy bake pan or something), and sprinkled some sugar and cinnamon on it. It was the best treat ever. Gramma loved to spoil me with sweet things. Once they bought neopolitan ice cream (in the box) and left the whole chocolate section just for me. I would always get a snack before supper (as I would go to watch Star Trek with my grandpa and it was on at 5), but before I did I was always asked, “will this ruin your supper?” To which I would reply, no and give a detailed list of what we were having to show that I liked it and so would eat that too.

My gramma’s joy and talent in baking was for sure passed on to my cousin and I. She taught us all the secrets to great desserts, and I usually gain a lot of fans in my friends when I bring a dish handed down to us from her (like my fudge – it’

When we were struggling to get pregnant, my gramma was there for me all the way. And when we were finally able to bring our miracle home for her to meet, I’ve never seen her so happy or proud of me. Of all the people I’ve attached to in my life, she was one of the closest bonds I have ever felt. She was strong, having gone through and beating cancer twice, surviving almost everyone she knew as they passed on and she kept kicking. She had a vibrancy that radiated throughout the room. She was full of spunk and never looked or acted her age. She became more open about her feelings as she got older and made sure to tell all of us how much she appreciated us and loved us. She was always there.

And now she’s not. Not physically, at least. I know she’s happy where she is now. I know she was met by everyone who left before her. She’s dancing with grandpa, she’s joking with family and friends and happy. She’s left a legacy and a mark on so many people in this life. I know I can call to her spirit and she will hear me. But I will miss her so much. I already miss her more than anything. I already miss that when I go home I won’t be going to visit her in her often too-warm room at the lodge, with promises of a peppermint, or maybe a small piece of chocolate whatever in her room. I miss that she won’t be there to urge me on to play Maple Leaf Rag anymore. I just miss her. so. much.


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