Today my Great Grandmother passed away. Surreal is the only way I can describe my current feelings. One minute, a wave of grief overcomes me as I realize I’ll never speak to her again. Then in the next moment, the sadness subsides as I remember the sweet times we shared, or a funny thing she once said.
I was lucky enough to get to know my great grandmother. Not many people have such an opportunity to know grandparents, let alone great grandparents. She was such a fascinating person and every time I saw her I was always in awe at the person she was, the life she lived, and the hilarious and frank advice she gave me.
I am heartbroken. I am overwhelmed with happiness for knowing her.
She was born in 1933 in West Virginia where she also met her husband. By 24, she was married, living in Michigan, had 5 children, and was taking night classes to study nursing. She was incredible. She was one of the first black nurses at The University of Michigan’s hospital. She even modeled in magazines and was featured in JET with a group of beautiful, intelligent black nurses.
In the 1980’s, with her youngest child finished with college, she divorced her husband and moved to San Francisco…across the country and away from a single family member. She needed a change; she wanted to live her life to the fullest. And she did.
In San Francisco she met an Italian lawyer from New Jersey at a bar even though neither of them drank alcohol. It was love at first sight but he still had to chase her. He courted her for months, even renting a condo for her before she decided to start dating him. They eventually bought a house together and remained partners in San Francisco until her death.
She was a sweet, caring, funny, and very particular person. She loved fried oysters at Pacific Cafe, extra crispy. She loved french toast and bacon from Matt’s at the Opera, extra crispy. She liked her Mongolian beef and orange chicken from Ben Wah, extra meat. She almost wept when Del Taco closed on Van Ness. She would always say, “You have to point to the exact scone you want or they’ll always give you the smallest.”
She taught me to always have my hair done and my nails manicured (still working on the latter.) She taught me to always know my worth and never let another person tell me otherwise. She taught me to always seek the best. In her own words, “I’d have men hitting on me left and right, asking me to go home with them. But I had a lawyer waiting for me at home. Paige, never trade down.” Most importantly she taught me to love and appreciate my family.
“I’d have men hitting on me left and right, asking me to go home with them. But I had a lawyer waiting for me at home. Paige, never trade down”
She welcomed me with open arms, as I too traveled across the country to start an adventure in San Francisco. She fed me, showered me with blankets, cared for me when I was sick, and always said I would have a place in her home and her heart. I love you grandma.