Grandma Young-- my great grandmother on my mom's mom's side (got it?)-- would've celebrated her 104th (I think) birthday today, probably with a big family gathering at the Rose Garden in Elk Grove Village, IL and a large cake from the family bakery.
An immigrant, Grandma came over from Austria when she was 4. She married Grandpa Young and they lived together in the same bungalow (kitchen from said bungalow pictured below) for over 70 years.
They also raised 2 children, one of whom happens to be my grandma, and together the families expanded into even more generations of well-humored and loving people.
How to describe Great Grandma....... She loved dirty jokes, Manhattans made with Vermouth, and music. Grandma had a sharp mind all throughout her 98 years, always smiling and laughing. When the store had a sale on round steak, she made Rouladen for all of the families and sent my grandma around to distribute everyone's portions.
Great Grandma's joy in life came from family, food, and fun.
On one of her birthdays, my mom and aunts and grandma drove all of us young great grandkids into Chicago to pick up Grandma Young and take her out for lunch. When we arrived, the bungalow smelled of German sausage and sauerkraut. Apparently the grocer had a sale so Grandma decided to cook lunch for all of us instead. It was wonderful.
Mother's Day, May 2007 was the last time I saw Great Grandma Young. In our final conversation, three months before my wedding, Grandma was all smiles wishing me joy in my marriage and was thrilled that I was happy. Somehow Grandma Young knew she wouldn't make it to my wedding and I think she felt bad about that: when she was in the hospital those last few weeks, she told my mom to be sure and tell me she wished me joy.
Even when her heart was growing tired, Grandma's spirit remained strong, and is, I believe, still strong watching over our family.
I was visiting my husband's family in Wisconsin, in the car about to go to the mall, when my mom called with the news of her passing. I was fine on the phone, hung up, sat in shock for a moment... then cried.
I miss Great Grandma Young every day. Our spirits were connected and I always felt close and proud to be her great granddaughter. Even though my parents raised me to be grateful, even though I thanked Grandma for every gift, every $5 pack of McDonald's coupons, and always hugged and kissed our "hellos" and "goodbyes," I still would love one more chance to say thank you to Grandma Young.