Sorry no bookish cheer today. My Grandma died this morning. She fell at home and broke her hip the evening of December 21st. Despite a few setbacks, she had been in good cheer and even though she was 98-years-old, it seemed like she would be able to get well again. But my mom called me today to give me the news. Grandma’s heart gave out this morning.

There is a lot I will miss, but what I will miss most is her letters. We’ve been writing letters to each other since I went off to college in 1986. Her last letter to me was just before Christmas. I’ve saved every one of them.

Grandma — Evelyn — grew up on a Minnesota farm and married a farmer. And even though she moved to California a very long time ago now, that practical farming sensibility remained with her always. She would worry but never panic. She was generous and kind. Even after my grandpa died in the mid 90s she still signed her name “Mrs. Harold Hollmichel.” She loved flowers and gardening and though she hasn’t been able to garden for years, she loved for me tell her about my garden in our letters.

She loved beautiful things but was of the generation where you put them away to keep and only brought them out on special occasions. She had a hummingbird feeder hanging outside her kitchen window above the sink and she liked to wash dishes and watch the hummingbirds come to the feeder. One year I sent her a beautiful glass feeder as a present and she wrapped it back up and put it away. When my mom asked why she didn’t hang it up, she said it was too pretty and didn’t want it spoiled. It took some work on my mom’s part to convince her that she should hang it up. What got her to do it was asking her how I would feel if I came to visit and found out the feeder was in the closet instead of hanging out where she could enjoy it.

Grandma had a strong faith in God and while I myself don’t believe, if it turns out there is a heaven, she’s definitely there. And if that’s the case, I hope she’s sitting in the shade surrounded by the sweet smell of flowers and watching the hummingbirds.