I always think of Chris’s Granny, Gail King, at Christmas time. She loved snow – loved watching it fall and the way it made the world beautiful. She and Papa as we call Chris’s grandpa had a difference of opinion on snow… he wanted to be in Florida before the first flakes flew! Also her birthday was just a few days after Christmas so during our visits we celebrated both, separately of course.
When I met Granny, I knew I had met a kindred spirit. She welcomed me warmly into the family. She was the story-keeper, regaling me with tales of Chris’s childhood. She had a rich story herself -the blue-eyed baby of a large unruly family, she was swept off her feet in her teens by debonair Charles King. Together they built a life and raised their daughter Becky (Chris’s mom) and son Bobby, who died too young in his 40’s of cancer. Granny herself suffered two decades of poor health. Thanks to the pandemic, we know the wide range of ill effects COVID can cause… Granny likely caught some kind of nasty virus in her 50’s that messed with her pancreas and her heart. She also un-lucked into leukemia. Despite a life dictated by rest, pills, shots, doctors’ appointments, and negotiating with insurance and pharmaceutical companies, Granny was a ray of light to those who knew her. She had a couple close, dear best friends. In fact two of her friends made the trek all the way to Colorado for our wedding, providing support and company for Granny at a time when she was very unwell.
Until she passed away in 2016 Granny always wanted to show me a journal she’d written about an RV caravan journey out West that she and Papa took with some friends. That trip was definitely a highlight of her life! The journal finally resurfaced when Papa moved to a new house. Reading it, I feel close to her again – delighted by her discovery of the Western landscapes and riveted by the challenges they faced including mechanical failures, intrapersonal tension, and getting the warfarin checks and medication deliveries they needed.
I am so glad she got to meet her first great-grandchildren Savannah and Bobby (the son of her grand-daughter Sam). I believe in heaven she is delighted to see that Chris and I had a red-haired little boy just like she did – we often talked about how much we loved redheads. Now Sam has a red headed little girl named for Granny and I know she is delighted!
Granny loved her husband Charles and he took such good and tender care of her during her years of illness and her last few months. I see much of him in Chris – fantastic cooking abilities, the same keen mind, and the ability to see things in 3D. Papa could visualize engines and cars, Chris could do that with molecules and chemistry. Deeply loyal, Papa built strong relationships with the people he worked with.
Papa didn’t take it easy after he retired; he took care of Granny and kept their land well-tended. He and Granny invested so much in Chris, taking him fishing at the bay, having him over often. Papa stayed active in the Masosn and drove Granny down to Florida each fall, and he still goes down today despite whatever health challenges life throws at him. His new friend Norma has become dear to our family and kids.
I have to mention Granny’s sister Fay who has become a bonus grandma. She moved to France in her 20’a and built a life and family there; we have visited her several times there and have seen her in Virginia as well. We hope to continue seeing and hosting their family far into the future (once the pandemic is over!) My life has been so much richer for the family I have married into.
I am so thankful for Granny and Papa King, for their long and fruitful marriage and the way they soaked love into my husband. I see so much of them in him. I will always miss Granny and am thankful for all the time we get to see Papa.