Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Tribute in Books to My Late Grandmother

As you may recall from my previous post, it hasn't been the happiest, most carefree of summers for me and my family. I wrote that post on June 22. On June 25, my husband had to take me to the emergency room. I had a 103-degree (Fahrenheit) fever. It was a kidney infection.

My 26-year-old cousin died of pancreatic cancer. Less than 3 weeks later, I was in the hospital with an inflamed right kidney and sepsis. With antibiotics and a few days of rest,  I got better. Things were starting to look up.

Then, on Sunday, July 3 - in the middle of the 4-day weekend, which should have been a welcome stress reliever - my grandma, Gloria Elaine Stevenson ("Irish Granny"), started having seizures. She ended up in the same hospice care center where my cousin Joe died, in the room right across the hall from where he breathed his last. She was in a medically-induced coma, but I spent time with her on the afternoons of the 6th,7th, and 8th.

She passed away at 12:20 a.m. on Saturday, July 9th, without ever having regained consciousness. She was my last surviving grandparent. Born March 19, 1934, she was 82 years old.

If you read the blog, you might recall I'd been in the habit of taking Irish Granny's TBR list to the local library's used book sale and picking up books for her. I now inherit her books, most of which I purchased from the library.

Here are a few of them, sitting in the window seat of my home library. On the bottom are her medical reference book (we used to use those before WebMD) and a Danielle Steel. I personally have never been interested in Danielle Steel. For me, the best prospect is Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. It's a crime thriller marketed to fans of Gone Girl.

Inside one of her Laura Lippman paperbacks, I found these bestseller list clippings from the local newspaper. This is how she used to decide what to read next. The fiction bestseller on the first list is End of Watch by Stephen King. On the middle list, Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts is #1, and the blacked-out books are Foreign Agent by Brad Thor and Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand. Those were the two she wanted to read. She liked a combination of thrillers and literary fiction. On the third list, the #1 book is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Its film adaptation is currently in theaters, starring Sam Claflin as the doomed romantic hero.

Harlen Coben, James Patterson, and Laura Lippman were some of her favorite authors She had only discovered Lippman recently, within the past year.

More bestseller lists fell out of another Laura Lippman. On the first one, Harlen Coben's Fool Me Once is #1. (Danielle Steel is at #5 with Property of a Noblewoman.) The second also lists Fool Me Once as the #1, but Steel has moved up to #3. The third one also has Me Before You at #1.

Another bit of ephemera, one that she was probably using as a bookmark, was this Christmas tag from 2015.

I don't know if she ever read The Bourbon Kings, but if she did, she would have discovered one of the favorite authors of me and my mom. It's one of the few J.R. Ward novels I haven't gotten to yet. (The last one I finished was The Beast, which I did not enjoy as much as Blood Kiss.)

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware wasn't on her list. I picked it out for myself, but I thought she might enjoy it, too. I heard the author (who is English) discussing her book on NPR one morning while commuting. It's a mystery novel. I don't know if Irish Granny read it or not.

This last bit of ephemera came out of the James Patterson. I don't think it came from my grandma, but from a person who checked the book out before this particular copy was withdrawn and sold by the library. This person has $5.25 worth of library fines. I don't think my grandma ever owed the library any money in her life.

That may not be the end of the books coming my way from the late Irish Granny's house. There's still a lot of processing to do, physically and emotionally. Two deaths in the family in a space of 31 days have caused us all grief and stress. We are still accepting donations of hugs and warm beverages.

The good news is that my brother and his wife will have newborn twins in October. We can't replace Joe and Gloria, but we sure will be ready to welcome Henry and Andrew. Mentally, I'm already ready for summer to end and autumn to begin. I feel like the change of season will bring in a change of emotions. Things are tough all around this summer. I think I finally understand the words of the Green Day song: "Wake me up when September ends."