My grandmother died yesterday. She was my last surviving grandparent, and the one that I was closest to. She was 94 years old, and had been declining a lot over the last year, so it wasn't completely a surprise, but it was still a painful shock to hear this news, since I hadn't heard that she was doing worse than usual.
She had a strong personality - loving, sociable, opinionated, and stubborn. We always got along very well, even though I am quite different in some ways. I remember one summer when I was 12 or 13, spending most of a month visiting her, going out every day to see sights in Washington, DC and Maryland, having a great time. It was difficult to see her gradually decline physically and mentally, even though this is almost inevitable at her age. My father and I visited her in Texas, where she went to live close to my aunt, on her last two birthdays for the last two Septembers. I am glad that I got to see her when I could still talk to her, although she couldn't handle much talking on our last visit.
She lived a long, full life, working full-time when my father was growing up, at a time when this was the exception for middle-class women rather than the rule. She had a very interesting career - she was a computer programmer, starting shortly after World War II when computers weren't even programmed with punched cards, but by rearranging wires within the computer. She spent most of her career working with punched cards.
About a year ago, I started writing letters to her. At first, she wrote back, but after a while, she could not do this anymore. I kept sending letters periodically. For the last few months, my aunt would have to read them to her when she visited every few days. I think that they did help cheer her up a little at times, and that she liked to hear from me. The last one I wrote was a little less than a month ago. I just wish I had sent one last one right around Christmas, rather than procrastinating, though she might not have heard it anyway.
She lived a long, fairly happy life that affected many other peoples' lives in good ways, and died peacefully. She will be greatly missed.