My grandmother, Sylvia Kaufman, passed away on May 5th. She was 97 years old. Today, we put her to rest at a cemetery in South Florida. While melancholy, the whole experience was a celebration of a very rich and long life. We will miss her. I said a few words about Grandma Sylvia today. Here it is in all its glory.
I always had this vision of Willard Scott calling Grandma on her 100th birthday.
You remember Willard Scott. He was the former weatherman/first ever Ronald McDonald/bubbly nice guy that used to announce centenarians on NBC’s Today Show. The fact that Willard Scott was into old people was kind of charming and creepy at the same time
But, in my vision, Willard’s call wouldn’t have been creepy at all. I mean, most of the time, when Willard would call these 100-year old folks, they always seemed so out of it that barely conscious of the world. But when he called Grandma, it wouldn’t be creepy. Because, when he called her, he would have found out that she reads voraciously, stays up on current events, and goes out for Wendy’s after shuttling around in her walker at the local Publix faster than most people can push their carts. Willard would have found that Grandma was so sharp that she knew that George W Bush was one of the worst presidents ever. She and Willard would of course chuckle about it and somehow it would come out in a way that even Republicans would love her too.
Most importantly, Willard Scott would have been most shocked that Grandma just didn’t look 100. Grandma never, ever look her age and at 100, it was no different. What would probably floor Willard would have been that hair. Oh that bright Red hair! But it wasn’t that Granma looked like a Red head, Grandma was a Red head. Even at 100 years old Willard would have found out that Grandma was always a typical red head – tenacious and cunning with an adventurous streak that just never stopped. He would have learned how she met a man in Cuba who wanted to marry her and raised a daughter all by herself in a time when doing something like was taboo. He probably would have also learned that she was stubborn (like most red heads) but because he was Willard Scott, the nicest person in the universe, he would have focused on the good part of being stubborn. Like the fact that she knew what she wanted and went for it, always. Like she remarried and moved to Florida when she was 60, traveled to far reaching places like Israel when people of her generation just didn’t travel and that, even at 100, she lived alone.
That would have floored Willard. But, because, he was Willard Scott, he’d probe in that nice-guy way and,” Why don’t you live in one of those Sr. Living Centers. Aren’t those places really posh and fun?”
And she’d reply matter of factly, “Because those places are for old people who want to die.” Willard would not know what to say.
But, sadly, shockingly, Willard Scott didn’t get his chance to meet Grandma at 100. I mean, I think we all thought she’d outlive all of us and was going to be the oldest person ever or at least the oldest person with Red hair.
Still, we got to be with her for a really long time. And with that time, we got a lot of kindness, tenacity, her stubbornness, her generosity, and most importantly love (and she loved us all).
And that will last forever.