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Remembering my grandmother Logan

Started: 2017-03-29 16:11:27

Submitted: 2017-03-30 12:28:44

Visibility: World-readable

Most of the Logan cousins
Most of the Logan cousins

For as long as I can remember, my grandparents have lived in a sprawling house in Fair Oaks, in suburban Sacramento. When I was a kid, living in the Bay Area, I remember driving up across the Bay Bridge and east along I-80 to Sacramento to visit my grandparents. We'd visit at least a couple of times a year, especially at Christmas. I remember seeing all of my cousins for a big family Christmas, and one of my uncles would quietly disappear down the stairs to the lower level, and then Santa would appear on the deck outside. (We ended up with a grand total of twelve cousins, but the last one wasn't born until 1997, well after I moved away from the Bay Area.)

Calvin with Jaeger, Kiesa, and his Logan Great-Grandparents
Calvin with Jaeger, Kiesa, and his Logan Great-Grandparents

My grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the fall of 2013. Her cancer was late-stage at that point, and her doctors gave her months, not years, to live. We visited that Christmas, wondering if that would be the last time (and deliberately giving Calvin a chance to see her while she was still up and about) as she went on and off various rounds of chemo. She radically altered her diet, cutting out dairy and sugar, and survived. She beat her cancer back and survived to attend the Logan family reunion in 2014. In the fall of 2015, she was back in the hospital. I took Calvin out to visit again, and again she pulled through and went back to live at home, with my grandfather taking care of her, and a handful of stair lift chairs to improve her mobility around the house.

Calvin with Aunt Bethany and Great-Grandma Logan
Calvin with Aunt Bethany and Great-Grandma Logan

At that time I was weighing a move back to California, after twenty-five years in Boulder. (Two weeks after visiting my grandmother, I was back in California to interview at Google.) While not at the top of my list, being closer to my grandparents did seem like a worthwhile goal. I moved to San Francisco in the winter of 2016, and visited my grandparents a couple of times during the year.

A few weeks ago, I staged a family ski trip to Lake Tahoe; we stayed in Truckee and skied at Northstar. On our way back to the Bay Area on Sunday, we drove through Sacramento and stopped at my grandparents' house for a quick visit. My grandmother was up, but tired; she sat at the kitchen table while we visited, and chatted about our ski trip and the weather. Compared to my memories, she was frail and diminished; she'd discarded the blonde wig for her wispy white hair. But she was clearly, and defiantly, the same person I remembered.

A week after our visit, I learned she had gone on hospice care; and a couple of days later she died.

The family scheduled a grave-side service for this past Sunday, 26 March, as a prelude to a full memorial service to be held at a later date. I decided to attend, since I can make a reasonable day-trip out of visiting Sacramento, even with both kids.

On Saturday afternoon, Kiesa double-checked Calvin's dress clothing and discovered that he had torn holes in the knees of all of his black pants, and he didn't have a shirt, shoes, or socks that would work either. (Both Kiesa and I had the outfits we'd bought for her grandfather's funeral last fall; I had a conservative black suit and tie, and she had a navy dress. Wearing a suit for the first time since the election gave me the opportunity to make bad jokes about our new president's strange tie-wearing habits.) We staged an emergency trip to Nordstrom to get appropriate clothing for Calvin; and then, in Kiesa's family tradition, visited See's Candies to reward everyone for behaving themselves. I felt very parental advising outfitting Calvin in clothing, and trying to figure out what would fit him, and advising him on the right way to wear a dress shirt with a tie.

The only complication with visiting my grandmother's service was that we'd invited Yanthor and Anya to visit us for a couple of days, starting on Sunday. I picked them up from the airport, took them home for brunch, then abandoned them for the rest of the day as we set out for Sacramento.

Grandma Logan's graveside service
Grandma Logan's graveside service

We met my family at the service, at Lakeside Memorial Lawn Cemetery in Folsom, close to my grandparents' house in Fair Oaks. All of my grandmother's four sons were there, plus six of her twelve grandchildren, and both of her great-grandchildren. My uncle Don said a few words, and had a pastor say a few words, then we laid roses on the casket, and headed for a late lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory down the street.

Grandma Logan's casket
Grandma Logan's casket

We drove back to San Francisco, ran into only moderate traffic, and returned at a reasonable hour to celebrate Calvin's birthday.

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