A pearl of a Gran

This pearl was plucked from an heirloom quality “opera length” pearl necklace owned by Kym Seabolt's grandmother. (Kymberly Foster Seabolt photo)

Though I know I’ll never lose affection, For people and things that went before,
I know I’ll often stop and think about them, 
In my life, I love you more.

— The Beatles

As I write this, my beloved grandmother, affectionately known as “Granny,” (her choice) is trying very hard to have a happy death. We, her assorted family aged 7 to 100+ years, are not taking this nearly as well.

We received the news just a week ago. We went, in a blink, from “she just wasn’t feeling like herself” to dark words that choke and taste bitter like “terminal” and “palliative care.”

I telephoned her. Her first words to me were said in a hopeful, almost joyous tone of voice “Oh, Honey, I’m going to see GRANDPA!”

It should be noted that my grandfather, who was her soulmate of over 50 years, died three years ago. She has mourned him every minute since. Thus, her hope at being assigned an earthly expiration made perfect sense. Where we see loss and heartache, she —  in her unwavering faith — sees reunion.

Yesterday, a visitor exclaimed that she really did look wonderful. She admonished him wearily, “Oh, please don’t say I look wonderful. I want to look like I’m DYING.”

After grandpa passed, we called and visited often. BoyWonder used his first career paycheck to provide a device that would allow her to video chat with far-flung family and friends. Still, we could never be enough. Losing your “other half” leaves a void. With great love, after all, comes great loss.

Gran has a very large family. In addition, she has a slew of “adopted” families too. I’m forever trying to identify the faces beaming back at me from birth announcements and school portraits she has displayed. Who ARE these people? Fortunately, there is no jealousy among the ranks. She has a knack for making us each secretly believe that WE are definitely her favorite.

Now, we gather and visit en masse. We spend hours at her bedside where she regales us with memories of her life — and her memories of ours. She is my final tie to that generation. I cannot fathom that I will no longer have grandparents on this earth.


She is a very glamorous woman. She was, throughout my entire life, always on trend and impeccable in her home, style and social life. My childhood memories are of lavish theme parties and her flawlessly beautiful calligraphy handwriting on correspondence. She was my first pen pal, after all.

Her Christmas breakfasts were legendary. She traveled internationally in Genoa, Italy; in the mid-1960s, she shared an elevator with The Beatles. She mentions this almost never. It is an afterthought. I would like to think John, Paul, George and Ringo were suitably impressed to be meeting HER. They certainly should have been.

When we lost grandpa, I worried that she would soon follow. She vowed, however, that she wanted to see her grandchildren graduate college, which she did when the last few finished up last year.

She saw GirlWonder’s wedding and that of another grandson and his lovely bride. She met BoyWonder’s fiance and saw a great-grandchild start college.

It feels silly to be so shocked that a woman in her 90s isn’t going to share this life with me forever. Yet I do. Her brother is 100 years old. I want more time. In my mind, there is SO MUCH left for her to see. She tells us, however, that she is, quite simply, done. She assures us that she will be with us always — in spirit.

In all our visits to her home, Gran always waved goodbye when anyone left. She would stand on the porch in all weather and wave until the car was out of sight. I honestly don’t know if I can visit that address knowing I won’t see her waving from the porch as we leave. Now, it seems we are slowly waving her off to her Heavenly home.

A true gem

GirlWonder wears one perfect pearl dangling from a gold chain around her neck. She has done so since receiving this necklace as a gift from Gran. This pearl was plucked from an heirloom quality “opera length” pearl necklace. It had belonged to Gran — a gift from her own mother 70 years ago.

It was deemed by Gran to be “out of date for young women today.” She had the necklace dismantled and pearls distributed among various, classically simple jewelry. I don’t think our daughter has missed wearing it a single day since. It is the perfect touch to her style — and her heart.

The story of the necklace embodies so much of Gran herself. She was, is, and will forever remain a true gem for our family, spreading pearls of wisdom and love to be cherished through the years.


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