My maternal grandmother Betty (Kline) Davis passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 94, on about the most perfect summer day in Minnesota you could imagine.
What can you possibly say to sum up this force of nature in my life? When my grandpa died when I was 12, she chose me to accompany her on a Caribbean cruise and we got along like gangbusters, partying with other cruise friends, eating too much lobster, and ballroom dancing. She loved to laugh and I teased her with a teenager’s gleeful joy. She couldn’t cook to save her life and we hid her baked gifts in the freezer until we chucked them out. She thought that a little Debbie Nutty Bar with slices of Kraft American cheese wrapped around them was a pretty good lunch. She loved Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune and crossword puzzles. We played about 5,000 hands of UNO and 10,000 hands of Skip Bo when I visited her at the lake. She water skied into her 70s, giving up only when her hands lost their strength to hold on.
She once called me at the St. Olaf computing center desk, first thinking it was Target, and it was my buddy and co-worker Mike Mensink who answered the call, much to his amusement. She helped put me through grad school at Hamline-without her I probably would never have gotten my MFA in Writing. She gave me The New Yorker every Christmas for twenty years straight (1998-2018). Just recently this spring a scam artist told her I was in jail in an obscure foreign country and she sent $1,000 to bail me out, no questions asked. Obviously she was mentally fuzzy on that one, but how many people would bail you out like that? Right away? When I called her to let her know I was safe and sound, she sounded upset about being scammed. I laughed softly and told her I love you, Grandma, and that was the last time we spoke.