There is no denying the fact that my grandma Gloria was a beautiful woman. You can see it clearly in these photos. Her hair, thanks to weekly trips to the salon, was always meticulously styled. Her outfits were always perfectly put together and pressed. She was a fashionable woman who carried herself with grace and class everyday. But her gorgeous external appearance is nothing compared to the woman she was on the inside.
Grandma was one of the most caring and thoughtful people I have ever known which was made clearly evident through the large group of close friends she had. I’ll never forget the time a few months ago when I went to church with her. Since she had stopped driving a few years ago, she couldn’t always make it to services unless someone took her. But when she walked through the doors of her church in Kensington, people immediately started coming up to her saying how glad they were to see her and to check in on how she was doing. She absolutely reveled in this environment – she loved seeing these people just as much as they enjoyed seeing her.
Being social was one of my Grandma’s greatest pleasures and she loved to entertain and to play host. I always looked forward to going to her house in Bethesda for dinner because I knew the minute I walked in the front door and down the steps of her split-level foyer there would be Grandma offering me an IBC rootbeer in a bottle. She always knew just what to do to make everyone comfortable and ensure we all had a good time, which we always did.
Grandma also made sure to let everyone know just how much she delighted in their company. She was the type of person who would fire away a letter the minute after getting home from any event just so she could recall every detail of the outing that had pleased her. She wanted everyone to feel her happiness, and her letters always represented that. As a child growing up in the age of email and the internet, a handwritten card from Grandma was a treat. She was my pen pal and her letters and cards will always be something I miss.
Along with her love of people, my Grandma was fiercely intelligent and always loved learning. Nearly every year for Christmas or birthdays we were gifting her a crossword puzzle book and she was always talking about the latest thing she was reading or an article she had seen in the Post. She also shared this love of knowledge with others as a teacher for many many years. Her curious spirit was fueled by a love of traveling and discovering new cultures, details of which she would relay to us as children. Once, after a trip to see the pyramids in Egypt, Grandma let me borrow all of the artifacts and souvenirs she had picked up along the way so I could share them with my elementary school class. Egypt was only one stop on her and my grandfathers tour around the world – they took great interest in seeing it all, which is something I truly admire about them.
But maybe the greatest thing I learned from my Grandma was her sense of independence. She never seemed afraid to break out of the mold, to work for herself, or to have her own interests. She encouraged this strong mentality in all of her grandchildren and I am extremely grateful for it.
Tomorrow is my Grandma’s funeral. She passed away on May 18 at the age of eighty-seven. While I know tomorrow will be a sad day, I know it won’t all be somber. I will be able to celebrate the life of an amazing and inspiring woman with those who loved her just as much as I did.