My grandmother, Lillian, passed away shortly after Thanksgiving this past year. When my parents came to visit me last week they brought me a beautiful set of crystal stemware, they thought Lillian would want me to have it. I finally got around to unpacking and washing them today. So I can’t help but remember her.
The glasses were wrapped in newspaper from 1988, the Saint Petersburg’s Times. This made me smile thinking of their time in Florida. I didn’t actually meet Lillian until a few years after that, I believe 1994. I was about 13 years old. Lillian is my stepfather’s mother, but the only grandmother I’ve really known. She kept a photo out of her and her husband, Bill, walking on the beach. It’s this photo I was thinking of when I saw the Florida newspaper.
I started thinking about the glasses and all the parties they might have seen in their day. They’re Romanian crystal, could they have come from her mother? Or was this a wedding present to her and Bill? Or did she pick these up at an antique store sometime during her life? I will never really know, but I know they are from her, and I look forward to giving them new life in my home.
Lillian was from Queens, NY and it was a very nice coincidence that both her and my mother-in-law (also from Queens) attended Hunter College. Lillian had a degree in Russian. Her parents were immigrants from Russia. She worked hard supporting her family and raised several children in her home, many of whom were her sisters. She was a tough and determined woman, but she was also very sweet and loving. She was the type of grandmother that always had candy in a tin can for us.
I loved listening to her and Bill’s stories of growing up in New York. They met when she was just 16 years old and were married for 54 years. She recalled having long braids back then and meeting him at his uncle’s bar before going out for a picnic with a larger group. She could even remember seeing a horse-drawn fire truck in New York as a very little girl. I will miss her and her story telling.
It was very tough for us all to watch her go, more so for my mom and step-father who took care of her to the end. Going home will not be the same without her there. She was as thrilled to have us for grandchildren as we were to have her as a grandmother. However, we all knew it was her time to go, and she went with peace in her heart. We were all glad to have the time to say our good byes to her in person.
I love you Lillian, and I pray you rest in peace.