Wednesday, September 23, 2020


 I have been dreading writing this post for awhile-- in the abstract since her stroke in 2016 and more pressingly since 9/18/2020. But, anyway, here goes:

My Bomma died last week. The same day as Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in fact, softening the blow of democracy's death for me at least. She had COVID-19, was feeling OK on our last family Zoom, and took a turn on Thursday, going pretty quickly after that. My aunt got to don PPE and be with her, after not being able to visit since March, and the staff at her lovely nursing home said goodbye.

I live-streamed the funeral in the orthodontist's parking lot, which is so classically 2020 I cannot even. Shiva was on Zoom. It's all so apocalyptically sad.

Bomma was 91 and lived a lovely life. She was a wonderful grandmother and made all 9 of us feel like the favorite grandchild.

Here's my FB post about her:

When I was 4, my grandma and I were at Adventureland riding that ride that runs above the park like a ski lift, and I asked her for a piece of gum. She handed me a square. I assumed it was a beige chiclet, but she gave me the same thing she was chewing— nicorette. I kind of liked it.
Once, at dinner, she accidentally ordered me a pink lady instead of a Shirley Temple. I didn’t actually drink it, but I bet would have liked it, too.
Playing Scrabble, she taught me all of the dirty words. ALL of them.
She also taught me how to shop sale racks— it’s an art— took me for my first pedicure, sewed me a closet full of frilly dresses, sent me off to grad school with a cozy flowered afghan, quilted for my babies, wrote letters in her finishing school penmanship back and forth with Harry when he was learning to write, sported a Bomma license plate for years because that’s what I— the first grandchild— called her, played endless hands of Skip-Bo, stood in line outside a West Des Moines K-Mart for hours to score my first Cabbage Patch Kid in 1983.
I loved to watch her in plays my whole life. Auntie Mame was my favorite because she WAS Auntie Mame as far as I as concerned. Glamorous. Irreverent. Charming. Not to mention my favorite person to talk to on the phone for hours.
She met Minnie once via Zoom, which is the only way we’ve been able to see her since March, and today, we lost her to COVID.
I was so lucky to have a grandma like Bomma, who told my friends about the time the hem of her nightgown got stuck on the garage door when it was going up and all the neighbors knew she was natural red head, had 4 closets full of clothes and shoes and walls and walls of purses on hooks, and always kept a full cookie jar for her grandkids.
When my kids have kids, I hope I can be equally fabulous, magical, and wonderful, but those are pretty big (and surprisingly trendy for an old lady from Iowa) shoes to fill.
But seriously. Who gives nicotine gum to a preschooler?

Here she is as Vera in Auntie Mame (yep, played both parts, years apart)
And with me and my mom FORTY YEARS AGO at my other grandma's house

Her memory is already a blessing, but that doesn't mean we miss her any less.


  1. Kathryn K.9:39 AM

    Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. Reading your account of your Bomma is making me tear up - she was obviously quite the lady.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. She sounds amazing