I received a call yesterday evening while driving on US-23 that my grandmother's struggle ended. I am saddened by her death, but strangely relieved that she did not have to suffer for weeks.
June Maples was an extraordinary person, and though I am biased, she really was one of those rare people loved by everyone who came into contact with her. For many years she was the organist and choir director at Christ the King Episcopal Church in Taylor, Michigan, and only the onset of macular degeneration could get her to retire about a decade ago.
June was also an avid fan of motorcycles in her younger years, and we grandkids get a kick out of hearing stories of our grandparents tooling around Detroit in the 1930s and 1940s, as though they were precursors to The Wild One. You see, despite their youthful carefree years, my grandparents have been models of consistency, with their 72-year marriage and almost seven decades in the same house.
Grani, as almost everyone called her, was also fond of painting and of a variety of crafts. She and my grandfather loved to golf, and even after her vision started to give out, she continued golfing for some time, saying that "the game is even better when you can't see - every shot might as well be a hole in one."
Her sense of humor was also legendary, and even up until her last days, she would continue to make unexpected jokes that put people at ease during the uncomfortable final visits. I drove up to see my grandfather after I learned of Grani's death, and he chuckled about how they liked to play pranks on each other. He told me about how at their last anniversary he asked if she wanted to go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. "Sure!" she replied, falling for the bait. "Well, hold on a minute, and I'll call you a cab," Grandpa quipped.
A regular George Burns and Gracie Allen moment, that one.
Grani, you will be missed by many, many people, and I am saddened today as I try to adjust to life without your presence. This blog post only begins to sketch the outlines of your remarkable life, and mere words cannot express the gratitude I feel for being lucky enough to have been born your grandson. Your generosity, kindness, and helpfulness will be especially missed, and I trust that one day I will see you again in the hereafter.
Goodbye, my Grani.