Monday, January 12, 2009

Ode to LaViolette...

Yesterday, my maternal grandmother LaViolette passed away. Mr. Peacock was expecting that something would happen soon, because she was 98 years old and suffering from dementia, however, when it does happen it’s still a shock and jolt to your psyche. She had numerous brushes with death over the course of her long life—but she always faced her challenges with courage and optimism. She appreciated each day and wanted to always learn or try something new. This tough Aries woman was an incredible influence and a constant inspiration for Mr. Peacock.

Above left: My mother and I used to tease my grandmother, and tell her she looked like she was in drag when she was a schoolgirl.
Above right: My mother and grandmother in the 1930's.

My grandmother's adult life wasn’t how she imagined it would be as a child—no white picket fence. She wanted her three children and all of her grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) to have a better life than her...and not make the same mistakes as she did. She self-depreciatingly called herself a “dumb country girl,” but was actually a very savvy and intelligent woman—who just happened to let her heart rule her life and not her intellect. LaViolette wasn’t a shy, quite flower though—she was a loud and stubborn lady that liked to have fun, eat good food and had a soft spot for any underdog or someone in trouble. She loved people and especially liked talking with people. “What is your first memory of your life?” was her favorite question she liked to ask, when she first met someone. My grandmother's first memory was, of course...getting in trouble as a toddler.

Above left: Mr. Peacock with his grandmother and younger sister, Samantha.

My grandmother invited me to come stay with her for a few months, years ago, after I had a painful break-up. We would frequently stay up all night talking and eating glazed donuts—which she loved. We had a special kinship and were frequently each others confidante—I could tell her anything without judgment and she also knew that she could talk to me about anything. Here’s some of LaViolette's favorite things:

Above: LaViolette, around 90 years old here, with her beloved Cairn Terrier, Teddie, standing in her backyard...with her blackberry bushes in the background.

She wore her hair in variations of a bob, for the last couple decades. She loved playing Bridge, bold dangling earrings and honky tonk music. Her favorite colors were red, black, and of course violet.

Above left: LaViolette, wearing a lavender colored vest in Rome, in the late 1960's—her favorite city in Europe.
Above right: Standing in front of a fjord in Norway, in the 1970's.

She profaned that she hated traveling, however, deep down she really enjoyed traveling and adventure. She always, however, appreciated coming home.

LaViolette had an incredible green thumb and could practically make a rock bloom. She collected African Violets and always displayed her prized plants in full bloom...and was always on the lookout for a new or unusual variety.

Her favorite artist was Tamara de Lempicka. In 1974, the magazine, Auto-Journal, described the iconic Lempicka self-portrait (above left) as "a real image of an independent woman who asserts herself." Mr. Peacock would also describe his grandmother the same way... as the "real image of an independent woman who asserts herself."

Two of her favorite movies were MASH and Wings of Desire.
I accompanied her 3 times to watch the latter film.

I will close now with a clip from a 1960 television show. It's a performance by Patsy Cline and introduced by Eddy Arnold—two my grandmother’s favorite performers. LaViolette was my grandmother, but she was also one of my closest friends and I will miss this lady with panache.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your sweet memories with your readers. I very much enjoyed this tribute to your lovely grandmother. The old saying that everytime an elder passes,it's as though a library has burned down,really is true.There is quite a story to tell here.
I'm very sorry for your loss. I've found that cherishing the time one did have with their loved one is so very important.

jezebel said...

If what we are is what we leave behind, your grandmother's memory is dearly served by your full and rich ode to her. My deepest sympathies for you and LaViolette's loved ones.

ayem8y said...
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Mr. Bluehaunt said...

I am very sorry for your loss. The tribute was beautiful. I think you evoked and captured her spirit in your words, sights, and sounds.

ayem8y said...

Grandmothers can be very special people and I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I’m now officially out of Grandparents, which has made me take a hard look at my own mortality. I have reached the stage where life stops giving and starts taking away.

Bart Boehlert said...

Robert, I'm so sorry about your loss. I also had a grandmother I was very close to. At 98 you're lucky you had your grandmother for a long time.

Mr. Peacock said...

Thank you everyone...
for all of the kind and
supportive comments.
I appreciate it!

My grandmother had a long,
and great life...
and I celebrate that.

Reavis Eitel said...

my condolences.
what a lovely hmage to your grandmother.

tula said...

my heart goes out to you, mr. peacock. your grandmother was simply lovely. her dynamic spirit lives on through you, and lives on beautifully.

Uncle Beefy said...

Robert...I am SO sorry to hear about your loss of your Grandmother. No matter the age, a love lost is a loss just the same. She'd be most pleased with your loving tribute. You're in my thoughts. Many condolences.