My maternal grandmother, Pearl, passed away unexpectedly last week. Although the news was difficult to hear – and will take me a long time to fully grasp – the outpouring of support for Pearl at her services earlier this week was brilliant. Grandma touched a lot of lives and many of them paid their respects this week. I’m incredibly grateful for this.
Additionally, I was lucky enough to speak at her services. Here’s a glimpse:
Pearl Arlene Ridder. She was born in 1929 and her 84-some-odd years on this Earth, she was a daughter, sister, mother, aunt… but for me and my cousins, she was our grandmother (and more recently, a great grandmother). It was only right that when she married into the Ridder family – where golf was so important – her initials became “PAR.”
She was defined by many things, but here are just a few:
- Patience – God bless her for listening to the golfers in the family recap EVERY SINGLE SHOT of our rounds when we visited her after a day on the course.
- Cuisine – I challenge you to find a better lemon chiffon pie, blueberry cake, or homemade applesauce.
- Presence – simply put, Grandma showed up – for the big events and small – and took immense pleasure in watching her grandchildren grow and succeed.
- Optimism – nearly every meal, day, or event was “lovely” or “wonderful.”
- And of course, cribbage. The card game has existed since the 1600s but you would think Grandma invented it. She had an amazing skill for the game… and perhaps even more impresssive than her skill was her ability to talk trash. Nothing beats your grandmother telling you after you scored poorly that “no, no, that’s good for you, honey.”
Note that all of these things by which Grandma was defined are traits and things that will continue. There will be plenty of golf, good food, smiles, and cribbage in the near future… especially at this year’s Christmas cribbage tournament that’s been known in recent years as the Pearl Ridder Invitational. I think we’ll stick with that name.
So to continue Gram’s legacy, we all have homework. With every swing of a golf club, or bite of lemon chiffon pie, or miscounted cribbage hand, Gram will be there. And it’s our responsibility to savor those moments and share stories of Gram with future generations. No, many of her great grand kids won’t remember Grandma “the person,” but they’ll know her.
Finally, if there were a grandmother hall of fame, she would be an immediate inductee… and her plaque might read “She showed up, she smiled, and she whooped your butt in cribbage.” We love you Grams.