She was an old lady. The oldest one I’d ever known. Her hands, in her lap, the skin was thin. Her blue veins were visible. It was as if I could see inside her skin. When I touched her hands, they were cold, always cold. She would let me gently pinch her skin and pull it up. We’d watch to see how long it would take to flatten out again, and giggle. She’d pat my youthful hands and smile. She was just a few years older than I am now. She was my favorite person and the only grandparent I’d ever known.
Her name was Jessica Constance Grubert Marten. Gram to me and her grands. I know her full name not because she was so much a woman before her time that she included them as part of her identity but because she was a storyteller. She always had a story to spin. She liked to tell me what her full name was and where she came from. I’d sit with her when she had her lunch of spreadable liver on rye toast and a cup of decaffeinated coffee, dark. She had beautiful, soft blue eyes with a twinkle at the ready. Her eyes were super large with her glasses on. It would be years before I learned she had failed cataract surgery so her glasses had a strong prescription in them. She would make eye contact just before she tipped into a story. A favorite of mine was one she shared dozens of times that never got old. When she was a young girl, she loved to roller skate on the streets of her Brooklyn neighborhood. If by chance the iceman came by for deliveries she and her friends would hide in an alley when they saw him coming from down the street. As soon as he passed where they were hiding, they would skate out of the alley and hold onto the back of the ice cart. They’d hang for a bit and let go for the fun of it. She’d laugh when she told this story. She had a great laugh. Her shoulders would shake and she would say, using her favorite name for me, “Maresy Dotes it was such fun”.
She was a lover of reading, a poet, and a piemaker. She was kind, funny, caring, and strong. She believed humans were good, most of the time. She believed in forgiveness. A whole lifetime ago and she’s never forgotten. I am different than she thought I would be, not better, not worse, just different. She would have loved the woman I became. I took her strength and reshaped it applying it in my life as needed.
She is one woman among so many millions before, during, and after her time on this Earth. She didn’t go to college or own a business or march for anyone’s rights or try to change the world for others outside of her field of vision. Her influence on my life was profound and positive, and so loving. She was comfortable in her own skin. She is, and always will be, the personification of a good human who happened to be a woman. She was, and always will be, my lady.