Saturday, February 28, 2009


Steven has noticed that whenever we get together with my family, the conversation always eventually turns to my Grandma Kennedy. No matter how many times we tell the stories, they are always funny or sad or thought-provoking.

Somehow, most of my memories are connected with scents. Mom's lilacs, bread baking, a certain kind of shampoo which to me always means summer camp. Then there are the books. The ancient and musty and simply wonderful smell of books. My grandmas house was filled with books. She had shelves filled with them, piles everywhere they could fit and always had one or two within arms reach of her favorite chair. She had started school to become a surgeon but had to stop when she ran out of money. She became an elementary school teacher and loved it. Looking through old photos, we found that her students would often send pictures and cards to her, even many years after they graduated. Her love of teaching and reading were evident as she patiently taught her grandkids to read.

Not long ago, Uncle John gave Steve and I a set of commentaries that had belonged to her and I found this tucked in with them. I'm sure she didn't make it, as frivolities like this just don't seem like her at all, but someone probably gave it to her or Aunt Sarah as a gift and I'm sure she treasured it.

She's been gone for years now and sometimes I still forget. Something will happen that I know she'd love and I'll make a mental note to tell her before I remember that I can't.

Her family was from Prussia and they spoke German and English. She was so excited when I told her I was taking German in high school. I think the only thing I could say coherently was "hello, my name is Sarah" but she was still so proud. I can still remember her singing: "O tannenbaum, o tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Bl├Ątter!"

She was a woman to be admired. A person who exuded grace, even in the midst of prejudice, injustice and loss.

Now all that's left are the pictures on the walls,
Memories and stories that are told.
The more often told the bigger they get
Create a legacy lest we forget.
--Plankeye "Goodbye"

Mary Katharine Gudschinsky Kennedy 1909-1999

Grandma would want me to tell you: God bless you richly, richly, richly.
Photo fiddling done with Picnik.


Granny on the Web said...

What lovely memories of a much loved Grandma. I am sure she would be so proud you had posted this to her memory.
I hardly knew my grandparents, 3 died before I was born and my last Granddad was ostracised by my Mum because he drank to excess.. but my brother and I used to sneak round to see him when we were visiting other relatives. He used to brew us a cup of tea in the only cup he had in the house and we would all share it.
Love Granny

RiverPoet said...

What a beautiful tribute!

I loved this post...D

Mom said...

Sarah, you made me cry. Your grandma is really missed. Your dad and I do the same -talking about her and wishing she was still around, "threatening" us with a cane mark. She was and is a special person. Then we're laughing because then we think she may be looking down on us with a lightening bolt in her hand and saying to Jesus, "Oh please, I never used the cane. Let me do this!"

A lot of the things that I try to carry on came from her. She was my inspiration in a lot of things.

From one Grandma Kennedy to the next Grandma Kennedy - she would have loved to see her family now!

Tillybud said...

Such a lovely tribute to your grandma. Many of my memories are around scents too. It's funny how a certain smell can transport you back to a different time and place.

Woman in a Window said...

"She was a woman to be admired. A person who exuded grace, even in the midst of prejudice, injustice and loss."

How is it that we've been so lucky to know women this wonderful? Mine was maybe not quite so graceful, but her bosom ample for the fall of a young cheek. Let's hold them near, k?

Janet said...

That was a lovely post. My grandmother died in 2000 and I spent the next year buying cards only to remember too late that she wasn't there to send them to.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Hi Sarah. Just came across the pond for a visit, via Retired and Crazy. Enjoyed the posts very much and I have a special empathy with your story of Grandmother. Reminds me of some of my elderly patients. Wrote recently about some of them and a wonderful funeral. I'll be back. Best wishes

Eternally Distracted said...

That was such a lovely post. I have written similar posts about my Grandmother, fortunately she is still around to read and comment on them, I cannot imagine what it would be like if she wasn't. Grandmothers are the most precious thing in the world...thanks for sharing your thoughts on yours.