Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Remembering Pete

Jon, Pete and I at our couples shower

This is going to be hard, but I want to remember a few things about Grandma Shirley (affectionately known as Pete) while it is still fresh in my mind. I have not known her for very long (only about 7 years), compared to the rest of the family, but after first meeting her she quickly turned into someone that I looked up to. Someone that I wanted to model my life after. Her personality was down to earth, completely unpretentious, strong and straight foreword and very warm and welcoming. With that said, she was extremely protective of her family and a shrewd judge of character. She permeated strength and wisdom and I have to say that that caught me by surprise and I immediately liked her. To my relief she immediately liked me and I was family from that point on.

Pete had blue blue eyes and rosebud lips. She was not a slight woman by the time I knew her, but stout and strong. She greeted me different from others. I have no idea why, but her eyes would always light up and she would say with the same intense, "Hey, you!" with a quick squeeze. If on occasion, I overlooked saying hi to her in this way, she would lock eyes on me and call me over, as if she was calling me out for it. One of her trade marks was that her nails were painted the same rosy color as her lips.

I always think that the character in the casket looks almost nothing like the person while they were living. In a way, I am a bit relieved for this because it’s a mark that that individual is truly gone from the body. Pete was no exception. The only trace that was left of her was the painted pink nails, just the way she always wore them.

Pete was a Scottish woman through and through. She was born a Montgomery and married a Davis. She was so much like me, feminine but with a bite that she used without hesitation whenever she needed it. After her first husband died (long before I knew her) she married Mallard, a brassy x-military man with a big heart, but pretty ferocious bark. When I first met Mallard, I could feel all eyes on me to see if I would run crying from the room after he made his first teasing jab at me. I suppose I have that sweet little girl look that deceives people into thinking that I am fragile. Jonathan just watched with an ever so slight smile on his face. He had already been up against the rough side of my tongue, and was just sitting back waiting for Mallard to get a taste of me. When I surprised Mallard (and the rest of the room) with a laugh and a quick come back, I think Pete and I instantly understood one another. You could tell that Pete and Mallard loved one another, but there was no doubt that she was a good match or that she could handle him. Jon and I would laugh out right whenever she landed one of her quick level retorts in response to whatever outrageous banter Mallard had aimed at her, only to look over and see a grin on Mallard’s face as well. He was loving it too.

Whenever she got so sick that she was in and out of consciousness, Shirley, my sister-in-law and Pete’s granddaughter, came to me and let me know that Pete had started a blanket for me. She said that Pete had knitted a blanket for all her granddaughters and after she had started on mine her hands got so that she could not knit very well anymore. When Pete knew that she was sick and would not recover she asked Shirley to finish mine for me. You cannot imagine how overwhelmed I was. I was so astonished that I said to Shirley, "But I’m not technically her granddaughter." She just smiled and said, "Yes you are. She sees you as her granddaughter." I just really do not know how to express the honor that I felt from such a gesture.

I cannot even come close to retelling how much she devoted her life to her children and their children and her great grandchildren. She was driven up until the very end to make a difference in all our lives. I just hope that we can make her proud with how we carry on without her.