To Grammie Glen, With Love

by | Oct 25, 2007 | Notes while surfing

I have put off writing this as long as possible, because any thing I could write would never be enough to honor my grandmother, Agnes Glenevie Sullivan Heath Krupa. I cannot describe my Grammie Glen because everything falls short. She’s complicated and contradictory.
One moment she can be silly and fun loving and in the next, scholarly and serious; a tomboy throwing a slick speedball, then a girl friend sharing the latest hair style; a spiritual soul of deep empathy and caring; then, a hardened woman with the mouth of a sailor.

One thing I can say about my Gammie Glen, I loved her and her passing has left a large void in my life. I will cherish my memories of the times spent with her: Memories of crawling onto her lap, loving her teasing as she called me her “sugar booger;” sitting around the dining room table infected by her laughter and humor; her boundless energy and stamina; being proud as a child that I had the youngest, most beautiful grandmother on the block.
Those who’d known her for years wouldn’t know what a hard life, harder than most, she had lived, unless they came straight out and asked her. Not that she was hiding anything, she was simply humble and always put others before her own needs. From a teen pregnancy, to two abusive husbands…The list of hardships is long, but I won’t list them. She wouldn’t. She never held grudges. “That’s all water under the bridge,” she’d say and dismiss the crime. If only I could be so quick to forgive for much less offenses.
Most women will know what I mean when I say she did what it took. She did what had to be done simply because it had to be done. For instance, she needed money, so she walked into a restaurant and asked for a job. When asked if she’d had any experience as a cook, she replied she had (not explaining that it was for a house full of kids) and got the job and soon, because of her dedication and hard work, became the manager. Voicing my amazement once over something that she’d done, she bluntly hushed my praise with those piercing Sullivan-blue eyes. “You do what you have to,” she had said.
In July of 2007, she was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, and the doctors said there was nothing more they could do and sent her home. Through it all she continued to have hope and maintained her spirits and faith in her God. When the rest of us were crying great tears inside she was still smiling, still optimistic. Her courage and spirit were inspiring. She wanted to spare us of her pain, a typical selfless act for her.
My grandmother did not die alone. She spent the last days her life at home with her daughter, Darlene (Aunt Kittie). Her room was constantly full of loved ones. So many people loved her and wanted to spend time with her. Grandma breathed her last breath surrounded by loving family–her sisters Madge and Rose, her daughter Kittie and granddaughter Dena. They sang a hymn my grandmother had written as a young girl. Their presence made her death peaceful and spiritual and we are all grateful for that.
On November 24, 2007, a memorial birthday service will be held for my grandmother at the Unitarian Church of Flint, Michigan. My grandmother insisted that she did not want a funeral and so this event will honor her wishes with a gathering on her birthday.