Bubby

November 18, 2008 at 10:28 pm (Uncategorized)

My Bubby died on Saturday. She was 83 and we knew it was coming, but it still hurts.

Oh, and for the gentiles reading this blog, Bubby is the Yiddish word for grandma. If I called her grandma, she would use a not-very-grandma-like explicative.

For someone so closely related to me, I don’t know a lot about Bubby. I wish I could have known more. I know she was born into the Great Depression, that her parents were rabbis who immigrated from Israel to the United States at the turn of the century. I know she met my Grandpa, a cop, when she was living in Chicago. I know their first born son was named Eugene, and that Eugene would later meet Debbie, and Debbie would give birth to me. Bubby also gave birth to another son, Steven, and two daughters, Laura and Ellen, my aunts and my uncle.

There was some mystery surrounding my father’s birth; my grandpa didn’t believe that my dad was his. As a result, my grandpa beat the ever-living tar out of my dad (and sometimes my Bubby) for most of his childhood and adolescence. And my dad really doesn’t resemble the rest of the family. My dad’s family is loud, dramatic, flamboyant. At the end of my Bubby’s memorial service, for example, my Aunt Ellen threw herself over the coffin and wept. They kiss you with wet, loud, smacking kisses and pinch your cheeks and want to know who your people are. They ask inappropriate questions about your sex life after you haven’t seen them in five years. They want to know how big your boobies have grown. Things like that.

My dad is quiet and sensitive. He didn’t need to have rhinoplasty to rid himself of a Roman nose, like so many of my relatives did to fit in. He doesn’t look like his brothers and sisters. He doesn’t pinch cheeks and he doesn’t raise his voice, unless he’s very angry.

The memorial service was in Phoenix, Ariz., with its sprawling freeways and Saguaro cacti that reach out of the parched earth like ancient hands. There was a coffin strategically placed at the front of the funeral home service room. It was so small, smaller than I remembered my Bubby being, but she had been sick when she passed. I kept wanting to ask the funeral director if she was in there, but at the same time, I didn’t really want to know.

Everyone told stories. Great stories. Back Fence PDX-worthy stories. It was strange to watch people I had never met talk about her life. Like the 45-year old woman who lived in the same condominium complex as my Bubby for fifteen years, and considered my 83-year-old grandma to be her best friend. The consensus was that my Bubby had a filthy mouth and an insatiable sex drive. That she was generous, especially when it came to feeding others. If you walked into my Bubby’s house, first she’d have a spread of bagels with lox, deli meats and cream cheese. After you finished that, she would offer to make you a cheese and tomato sandwich, all the time chiding, “You’re so thin. You’re so thin. Let me feed you.” I do that too.

And she was always doling out complements; even the most homely grandchild was a European supermodel in my Bubby’s eyes. She was a gambler, and when she would visit my family in Las Vegas, she would pout until someone dropped her off at the casino. She ate bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning. She smoked like a chimney until she was well into her sixties and she drank like a fish. Johnny Walker Red Label or vodka with club soda, never tonic.

She had a full head of platinum blond curls and wore her nails long and pink. A clothes horse, she once made me sneak into a women’s dressing room to try and apprehend the last, small, black pant suit from a woman who was trying it on.

“There’s no way that will fit her,” my Bubby said.

Anyway, she was a special lady and I’ll miss her a lot. I only hope I look as good as she did when I turn 83.

2 Comments

  1. stoogepie said,

    Hey girl, I’m really sorry to read about your Bubby passing on, but she sounds totally kickass and I’m pretty damn sure you will be just as incredibly awesome when you are 83.

  2. meagank said,

    Love you. Love Bubby-stories. You’ll be together again 🙂

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