This was posted on my MySpace blog a few minutes ago, and, with a few minor changes here and there, is being re-posted here.
Rest in peace, Grandma Flowers.
Got the news from my mother, who lives in New Jersey, at a little after 11:00 AM this morning, that my maternal grandmother, Wanda Flowers, died in a Reno-Sparks area nursing home this morning at the age of 86.
Spoke with my mom, and my sisters Debra, who was present when my grandmother went, and my sister Beth, who was the closest spiritually, if not physically(Beth lives in Massachusetts, y' see) to my grandmother after that, and this evening, respectively.
Informed my dad, who lives in Northern California, via e-mail, after I spoke with my sister Debra, 'cos he and Grandma Flowers, as we called her in the family, always got along.
Talked on the phone about this with a good friend of mine, who lives here in Vegas, for a while this afternoon, and then took a nap for a while afterwards.
Called Beth a little while after waking, and talked with her a bit about this.
Went over to the local supermarket to get a couple of two-liters of soda, and was thinking about what to say about this here, as I've been much of the day.
Tough to sum up a person's life in a few words and phrases, especially as so much, whether through ignorance, not wanting to offend the living(not the case here, I can assure you, as I can't think of Grandma Flowers ever having been nasty in the many years I knew her, even if I didn't know her all that well), or for other reasons, tends to get left out.
Still, I've to try, as she should be remembered, not for being one of the outstanding socio-political philosophers of our time, or being a celebrity of some sort, but for being a human being, born and raised in the tough poverty of '20's and '30's West Virginia, who did the very best with what she had.
At one point, she'd to put my aunt and mom in a Catholic orphanage, because the poverty of Depression-era West Virginia(This was around 1938, I think), plus a nasty, shiftless husband, made that the only choice she had to ensure that the girls would survive, on however basic a level.
The treatment my aunt and mom got there was pretty bad, but, it beat them starving to death.
Eventually, my grandma was able to get them out of the orphanage, and up to Buffalo, New York, where she worked as a cock-tail waitress in a bar.
She was able to see them off through middle and high school, before the girls went their separate ways, though my grandma eventually reunited with my mom in the Reno-Sparks area in the early or mid-'60's(my grasp of family history's pretty slight), after my mom had married my dad, and my sisters Renee, Beth and Debra, and, of course, Yours Truly, had come along.
My memories of Grandma Flowers are sporadic and scattered throughout time, from the early or mid-'70's on-wards, through January of '92, when I last saw her in person, but they are good ones.
It was she who was generally unfailingly kind to me, and who encouraged whatever slight interest I have in Nevada History, always finding some sort of book, magazine, pamphlet, or article(She even signed me up for a year's subscription to Nevada Magazine in the late '80's)for me to read.
When I came down to Vegas in August '91, she got many collect phone calls from me, and I poured out my heart to her, as I told her my troubles, such as they were, and she listened, which she didn't have to, but did.
She occasionally helped me out with money as well, and, in short, Grandma Flowers was as good a grandmother as any grandchild could hope for.
She didn't spoil me rotten, but she was kind, and I, like so many grand-children before and since, took that kindness for granted.
I do not recall speaking with her on the phone after around 1994, or so, as she'd had an accident in '92 or '93 in which she slipped and fell on a patch of ice outside the last place(a small apartment in Sparks)she had before going into the hospital, and later, the nursing home, where she died, breaking her arm.
From my Mom's, Beth's and Debra's accounts, the fall and breaking her arm took the self-confidence out of Grandma Flowers, and she never did get up out of bed ever again.
Over time, her physical and mental condition deteriorated, and, towards the end, Grandma Flowers rarely recognised Mom, Beth, Debra or the others who came to visit her.
So, with her death, ends a chapter of her life that was characterised by much unhappiness.
Grandma Flowers is at peace now, whether on another spiritual plane, as some care to believe, or simply now physically, psychologically and spiritually at rest, as some, like myself, might prefer to believe.
Either way, she's dead and at peace of some sort, and that is what matters.
What matters more is that Wanda Flowers was born, she lived, loved, hated, and was a human being of her place and time. She was special for that, as are we all, and she was loved and will be missed, and that matters greatly as well.
Wanda Flowers was a decent human being, who, like many such, often sold herself far shorter than she ought to have, but this isn't the time for "should have", "ought to", "would have", or "could have".
All of those are just so much piffel, as meaningless as pixie dust, and as substantial as a sand castle.
What matters is that Wanda Flowers, Grandma Flowers, was a good person who is now gone from among us, and what should be remembered, above all else, is that she was a good, loving, decent human being who did, maybe not always the best thing, but the best with what she had at any given moment in time, and who at least tried to be the best person she could.
She was special because she lived, and I will miss her.
Wanda Flowers, 1920-2006, Rest In Peace.