I received a text Monday morning from my older brother, and an email about 10m later from my father; my grandmother passed away that morning. She was 99 1/2 years old. Some of the things said about her (via email & FB messages) include:
"Aunt Doris was such a wonderful woman, wife, aunt, grandmother, nurse and for me from afar a model of living and aging well. Rest in peace Aunt Doris. Love to all, Liz" (my dad's cousin)
"So sorry for your loss, but so happy that your Grandmother's life was a long and good one. I would love to live to that age, as long as I was healthy and not alone." (friend of mine)
"Here's xxx for you. I, too want to live to be 100 as long as the quality of life is there." (friend of mine)
"As you said she lived a good long life , giving you all some wonderful memories." (friend of mine)
and, my favorite, my baby sister's lovely words: "My grandmother, Doris LeClair, died this morning at the age of ninety-nine. She was tuff and clever. She liked to drink sherry and she liked to play bridge. She was independent. She suffered losses and experienced difficult times: she survived, she flourished, and she made the best of the situation. She outlived her husband and her eldest son. She outlived nearly all of her contemporaries and she lived her long life with style. She did not bull shit and she did not coddle. She was a grandmother I could, and did, brag about. She was evolution in action--for ninety-nine years the world changed around her and she changed with it. She missed her love, my grandfather, since his death twenty-one years ago. Today she is with him."
I don't believe in an afterlife like Heaven or Hell, but the kindness of my friends, family, and professional cohorts reminds me that you give what you get out of life. We were never close, but everyone in our family knew she loved us.