Saturday, March 16, 2013

Grandma Kircher 2.0

My grandmother was born Grace Mattie Weiss on June 17th, 1918. She married my Grandfather  and became Grace Kircher. Others called her "Granny" but my siblings and I called her "Grandma Kircher". Granny is such a disrespectful term for someone who did so much for her family.  When I was a child, I lived in the upstairs of my Grandma Kircher's house. I lived there from the time I was a baby until I was in fifth grade when an arson house fire forced us to move from our small town of around 50 people to Troy, IL. As a child, my skin would crawl when I heard to long drawn out "Graaaaaany" of my relatives.

 My grandpa died before I was born and my grandma was a vital part of my growing up. I remember she would always praise me for my hard work. She would say "You are a Kircher through and through. Just like your Grandpa" She would tell me I should work at Disney and that I needed to keep doing my art, I had a talent. My childhood is filled with memories of my grandmother. For years she was 84 years old, she would walk across the town to go back to her old house to tend her flowers, she would not allow children to play in our yard for fear of being sued, she gave me wafer cookies and shortbread, chocolate turtles and we had picnics with KFC. She had a boyfriend named Albert that she would not admit was her boyfriend, she had children who disrespected her and a story of tragedy I could never understand. She was committed when she was young after losing a baby. She loved to Polka and would at every wedding she attended, even mine. My father was her youngest and I watched even though she slipped into dementia that she knew who he was. She was always happy to see me, even though I am sure she did not know who I was in the end, and once while going through her memory book when asked who the person was in the photo from my wedding, she said "Why that's me silly!"; it was a photo of me in my wedding gown.  I like to think that I am like my grandma in many great ways. My culture and family heritage are sort of a mystery as my grandmother's favorite line when asked about her Native American mother was that she was "a bleu bellied Yankee." My grandmother was fair and made everything she wore a stylistic art form.

My grandma was with me until January 28th of this year, I had her through my cancer, through my wedding, graduation from college and enrollment in grad school. She celebrated at my cancerversary party and used to love to come hang out with my friends. She loved Ray Price and everyone who knew her couldn't help but love her.  She was 94 years old (would have been 95 in June) and made me who I am today. At her memorial, we were asked to get up and speak about her and I did not get up. It was too hard to try and sum up and share the deep love and memories that I have with my grandma Kircher. I am glad that I can share her story through new media she would have loved to see.