Beautiful Franny

My grandmother, Frances Rockwell Vining, who made it to 100, died on Wednesday. My mom and dad were with her. Though she suffered from Alzheimer’s for the last 10 years and didn’t recognize us, Grandma was at peace with her decline, warmly smiling and saying, “Thank you, sweet heart,” to the very end.

“Thank you, sweet heart” was Grandma’s calling card. She always went out of her way to make everyone else feel special.  That’s how I felt when I visited them in Western Mass, a few weeks after college graduation. I remember, she brought out some old photos I’d never seen. One nearly made my heart stop.

It was a girl – maybe 18. She was small and fair-haired and breath-takingly beautiful. Even in black-and-white you could see she had pale blue eyes that brimmed over high cheekbones and a laughing red mouth.  She was all dimples and creases, strawberries and cream. I’ve noticed that most people are attracted to faces opposite theirs. For me, it had always been girls with dark hair and dark eyes that turned my head and stole my heart. The girl in the picture looked nothing like that. Strange as it is to admit, she looked almost like … me.

“Who is this?” I demanded.

“That’s me,” Grandmother said, startled, gripping the shoebox on her lap.

“That was you?”

“That is me!”

I know I looked stunned. I had to look stunned. The face in the picture was excruciatingly cute. Looking at her now, it was as if age wore a rubber mask. Yet I could still see the bright eyes behind the cheekbones curving up, a flash of the joyful smile.  I blurted, “Grandma! You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen!”

She took the picture and slipped it back under the shoebox lid, blushing to the roots of her silver curls. “Thank you, sweet heart,” she said softly, shaking her head as if to deny the obvious truth.

Thank you, Grandma.


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3 Responses to “Beautiful Franny”

  1. Adam Edelman Says:

    Nice change of pace from all of our normal business postings. Our grandparents will always play such an innocent part in our lives. You should only have happy memories.

  2. Russell Barnes Says:

    Your writing captured what is an indelible moment of your life. Thank you.
    Seems grandparents can transmit love unconditionally.

  3. Dino Stamatopoulos Says:

    Beautiful Memory.

    It’s nice to be back, Rob.

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