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An Ode to My Grandmother
My grandmother Meme (a French appellation for grandmother, her actual name was Julia, although everyone called her Judy). This is in Minot at our family beach cottage, “Sunnyside,” that her parents, John and Hannah Healy, acquired after the War when the family moved from the Glades just up the road, where they had raised the family. One of ten extraordinary brothers and sisters, Meme was kind of in the middle, closer to the top, as it were. She was at once strong and a very serious, hardworking, no nonsense woman who got things done (ensuring all those around her did as well) and rather sweet and light-hearted.
She liked to enjoy herself, read, have fun, laugh, and chat with others, but only after having completed her work and chores. I loved her very much and she was like a second mother to me. Meme took care of my brother and me for many years, especially after my parents divorced in 1977 until I came of age sometime in the early 1980s and struck out on my own. It’s both notable and a minor miracle that she never — not once — raised her voice at me, which is amazing given what a rascal and pain in the ass I could be.
Among many other things, Meme taught me the Lord’s Prayer, while on my knees next to the same bed my father slept in as a boy in Haverhill. I think of her every time I recite it, which is virtually every day. She was a great cook and always looked sharp, as this photo attests. Look closely. She’s in her summer uniform, looking like a sailor. The expression on her face is so her (the Healy’s have distinctive faces) and I can see both my father and daughter in that visage.
The last time I saw her, over twenty years ago, was on Martha’s Vineyard. She was like a little girl in an old woman’s body, still playful, so gentle and kind. She held my hand with warm affection and asked: “Who are you?” A warm breeze blew off the marsh that felt and smelled just like Scituate, where she was born and raised and spent every summer. While I often miss her, I also feel that she is close, her spirit and example abide at all times, in all places regardless of the expanse of time.
Huelo Hale, Paumalu 2022