Posted by: RaeAn | 22 April 2012

In Memoriam

My grandmother, Bea Antonoff z”l, known to my cousins, sister, and me as Granny, passed away on April 20, 2012. Below are the words I gave at her memorial service this afternoon. May her memory be for a blessing.

Bea surrounded by her husband, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren at Leah's Bat Mitzvah in June 2003

Granny was like the Tardis: much bigger on the inside than on the outside. Now, if you don’t know what the Tardis is, I’ll let you in on a little bit of British culture that has leaked across the pond and infected my friends: the legacy of the mysterious Doctor Who, a Time Lord who is a tad off his rocker and off on a big adventure in his Tardis, a little blue British Police box that looks to be about four feet by four feet on the outside but, once you step in, you’re in an enormous space ship about three stories high. I’m certain Granny had never heard of Doctor Who or the Tardis any more than many of you have, but one of her most striking qualities was that whatever one of her grandchildren was interested in, she was interested in, and if I’d told her about the Tardis, she would have laughed if for no reason other than the fact that it made me laugh and that made her happy. Now, I never hit five feet myself, and even I am taller than Granny was; but inside that deceptively small body was an enormous capacity for love and understanding.

Granny and Gramps moved from Florida to Georgia just to be near Leah and me growing up, and we spent at least one week every year at “Camp Granny Gramps” at their home in Jasper, GA. The basement was our own private Wonderland, with knick-knacks and toys (and even art supplies for me as I got older), and new ones appeared between every visit, acquired at some garage sale or another. Nothing was expensive, but everything was rich: no moment was more exciting than running up that steep driveway to the garage and basement to see what fun lay ahead that week. I spent one “Camp” session hunched over an old typewriter, experimenting with the messy black tape and annoying Gramps to all hours with the clicking until I could be convinced to go to bed, but only because Granny promised to read the story I wrote before she went to bed herself. While I may be a passably good writer now, I’m not sure how exciting the ramblings of an eight-year-old can really get, and yet breakfast was filled with rave reviews of what was clearly the start to the next Great American Novel. Granny would just laugh when I walked straight past the new box of Barbies to pick up the Scrabble board and beg to play game after game for the next four hours, most of which she spent helping me make bigger words so I could win.

Granny was very perceptive and understanding, and was always able to tell if we were in the middle of a “good cry” or a “bad cry.” With a good cry, we got a shoulder, as many tissues as we needed, and probably a piece of candy after we got it all out. A bad cry, though – you know the ones, when a kid is just being a brat and crying at her own frustration at not being able to make adults bend to her every whim – we’d get a healthy reminder of, “Oh, don’t get excited.” “I’m not excited Granny, I’m crying!” “Crying is excited.” “No it’s not! It’s SAD!” “Well, now you’ve stopped crying, haven’t you?” “Oh. Yeah.” She was always good at that.

And so that’s why I’m not crying. She wouldn’t want me to get “excited.” She’d want me to laugh as I finally remember that I’d only beat her in Scrabble so many times because she helped me cheat. She’d want me to take a trip to the Botanical Gardens and visit the butterfly house, because butterflies were her favorite animal. She’d want me to dig Raggedy Ann here out of her box and put her out in a place where I can have a red-yarn-headed smile brightening up my room, because she had always loved Raggedy Ann. She would have wanted me to go out and do whatever it is that makes me happy, no matter what anyone else says. Nothing was out of reach if one of her children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren wanted to do it, and the best way to continue Granny’s legacy is for us, all of us she has touched, to keep on reaching for the stars, because if it truly makes you happy, your star will certainly come to be within your reach.

I’ll miss you, Granny, but most of all, I’ll be try to be happy in your honor, because that’s what you would have wanted.

Shiva will take place at my parents’ home in Marietta, GA, tomorrow (Monday) at 7:00 pm, with refreshments graciously provided by the Temple Kol Emeth Caring Committee.

The Tardis... on the outside.

Inside the Tardis. Much bigger.

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