Another sip of my coffee and the host of the tv show announced that there would be a special edition of their program , today the 8th of September 2022. Queen Elizabeth II had just passed away. I remained glued in place watching what seemed like an endless collection of Her Majesty’s fabulous and colorful hats and matching coats. Many of the photos I had never seen before including the charming little video of Paddington Bear having tea with her.
Hours had slipped away when I finally removed myself from the television screen. The weight of this loss to the world stayed with me as my thoughts drifted to my own maternal grandmother. In recent months I found myself thinking about her more often, as a lady who spent her life working very hard.
She kept a large vegetable garden in which, I always said no weed ever dared to grow. There was a large rain barrel behind the garage from which she watered the garden and the many flowers as well. She planted a thin twig of a tree that later produced enough plums to please the whole family. My mother canned them every summer and I would take a jar and a spoon to my room and just eat them.
Born and raised in Kosice, Slovakia, she came to America in the early 1900s, met and married my grandfather. Together they built a house which they filled with three children. Quite the seamstress, she made clothing for all her family. She worked as a domestic for the more well-off Clevelanders and she brought her only brother and all of their sisters who wanted to come over from Slovakia.
She hung strings of garlic bulbs in the garage and a few in the attic of the house. Every summer there were a trail of white alyssum growing in the gravel driveway.
She and my grandfather would gather mushrooms growing in a local park. Not something I would ever risk doing.
They were within walking distance of St. Benedict’s Catholic Church and Benedictine High School. She attended Mass daily in her elder years, after Grandfather had passed, and one day on her way, some thugs hit her on the head and took off with her purse, which contained a few coins and an old Slovak prayer book. Her two sons and my father agreed it was time for her to give up the house, which broke her heart.
As I live day to day, I feel that I carry her with me. Often I wonder how she did it all.
As King Charles III spoke to the world about the death of his “darling mamma” I was tickled to hear his use of a Shakespeare line, slightly different from the version I remember, “Flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.”