Very Unique

When I was young, a teacher had forbidden me to say “more perfect” because she said if a thing is perfect it can’t be more so. But by now I had seen enough of life to have regained my confidence in it.
— Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

Like “more perfect,” it is grammatically impossible to be very unique.

And yet, when I think about the nearly 94 four years of the life of my grandmother, I can only say that she lived enough of life to give anyone confidence in the idea of “very unique.”

How else to encapsulate a woman who sampled six continents, who’d be first to tell you she had perfect taste, who took credit for everything good in her grandsons, and who, unforgettably, once proclaimed herself “the original cougar”?

God only knows where this lifelong traveler is journeying now, or who she’ll meet along the way. She already ran off with one Greek sailor (that I know of) in this life, and I have every reason to believe that her perfect taste will remain intact in the next.

Grandma strode across the stage of life with all the outsized passion and drama of the opera she learned to love as a child and listened to until the very end (with the volume getting progressively louder as even the recorded singers lost their ability to project their voices properly). When my brothers and I visited her early in the week, the one who’s a chef made supper for her while I put on a recording of Pavarotti’s greatest hits. I’ll always remember her eating that meal, teasing my brother about his cooking (and for being, of all things, a chef!), and humming the final lines of Nessun Dorma.

Pavarotti, a hamburger, and her grandsons: in all her life, I don’t think it ever got more perfect for Grandma than that. And yesterday morning, like Calaf, she won at dawn. The lifelong traveler took one look at the walker that was never destined to be her walker and, with typical taste and timing, quit the stage.

I’ll miss her terribly — we all will. And still we can be grateful for her good sense in knowing when the show was over, and not hanging around afterward.

Bon voyage, Grandma. And brava for a life very uniquely lived.