Friday, March 28, 2008

Doris Marie Heiser Moore

Doris Marie Heiser
Nov. 2, 1921-March 11, 2008

My grandmother died. Of course I never called her grandmother, she was my Granny. The woman who would kill a snake with anything she could wield, including her heel.

Her hair was always braided, and she snapped at me when I asked her about it. Why? Goodness, who knows! She was Granny. But then later she let me watch her comb through the long strands as I sat at her feet.

We would go for long walks along the railroad tracks listening for the wildlife. She would point out the bunnies, birds (my favorite were the kildeer), and nutria. For years, I believed she had made up the nutria, because not once in all my growing years did I actually see one. Not until I had my own place in college did I see a nutria. Bit creepy those critters...

One of my favorite memories was rearranging her spice rack whenever my parents and I arrived. I would accuse her of mixing them up just for me. Then I would spend the first part of our visit putting the spices in order. The rest of the time I spent upside down doing cartwheels or headstands. Thing is, it was always very difficult to sit still at Granny and Poppo's, if you did one of the dead animals on the wall just might attack. The red fox isn't too bad, especially when Poppo would let you touch it just a little.

She passed away only two weeks ago, but my best memories are from two decades ago. Why?

Granny had Alzheimer's. It isn't that it was contagious, but that she went from being a cantankerous-stubborn-old woman, to being a bitter-forgetful-suspicious-cantankerous-stubborn-old woman.

You may think I am being harsh, but here are a couple of examples:

She got in an argument one time with Poppo and a few others. Her claim: matches have dynamite in them. In order to prove her point she got out an encyclopedia and read the ingredients, and low and behold HER dictionary included dynamite as one of the ingredients. That encyclopedia certainly disappeared soon after.

One of my favorite tales is my own. When I was about eleven years old, I spent a week with Granny and Poppo. They have ten acres of farmland near Albany, and in the front corner of their land stands an old house from the turn of the century. The house always fascinated me and Granny would tell me stories. She told of a suicide in the front room, she gave details including how much the house and land originally sold for. She drew a map of the entire town, back when it was a town!

Just a few years ago, Granny claimed that I had made up all those stories myself. But that was Granny.

She was a strong woman, who worked hard all her life. She loved her family, all of us, and her farm. No matter how we argued while I was there, I was always given a hug and a "Be good, babe"
when I left. Except maybe in the last couple of years when the line between reality and the haze of illness was no longer clear.

In the last three months she no longer crossed into the realm of reality. It was time for her to go. Now it is my time to sort through all the years when I was scared of her and felt like she didn't care, to see the woman she was, before her mind began to fail...

The woman who cooked atrociously. The woman who loved the land and everything on it. The woman who gave life to my dad and therefore to me. The woman who loved me.

My beloved, My Granny.

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