I have tried unsuccessfully to write a quick facebook post to let people know that my 93 year old grandmother died today. But I found it too much of a challenge to try and fit my thoughts into the couple of sentences required by facebook etiquette, because I want you to know more than just that little bit of information.
Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be touchy-feely. That wouldn’t really be appropriate since neither my grandma or I are touchy-feely kind of people.
Grandma was born in the Netherlands and her fist name is Jacoba. However, she just shortened it to Coba. My mom told me that when she first met my grandma, when she and my dad started dating, she thought her name was Cobra. That’s funny.
Grandma has the fastest mind of anyone I’ve ever known. She could think and speak so quickly, most of us didn’t know what hit us. I remember on my wedding day, when I brought her a piece of wedding cake, I asked her how long Amy and I should wait to have kids. Without waiting a heartbeat she was responding, “Oh, about 9 months.”
She is the only person who can consistently beat me in an argument. She is just so fast. And even when she “lost”, she still won by ending what she had to say with a “huh”. (This is not actually the word “huh”. It is two beautifully intoned Dutch gutturals created in the back of the throat which a phoneticist would write as ʕuʕ. Ask my brother to do an impression for you sometime. He’s mastered it.)
My grandma always ran a tight ship. She worked hard. Her house was always clean and well organized. This could sometimes be intimidating for other people when she came to visit. Although it was never a problem for my mom, I remember once visiting a family friend for a party they were throwing. My grandma was going to be arriving later and the friend was frantically cleaning the house repeating the phrase “Coba is coming! Coba is coming!” She was just the sort of lady you wanted to impress with a spotlessly clean house.
My grandpa and grandma came to visit Denver for my graduation from seminary. While I was giving them a tour of the campus, a student flung open a door and knocked my grandma into a bench. She broke her hip. We didn’t know she had broken her hip but I could tell she was in pain. As she was pulling herself into my parents car, I was wincing on her behalf. She grabbed her leg that was still dangling out of the car and yanked it inside! Then she gave me a wink and a smile. My grandma was tough.
Grandma suffered a stroke a couple of years ago and her health has been slowly declining since then. When we said goodbye to her before we left for Mozambique, we knew it was likely we were saying goodbye for good.
I will miss getting to visit her when we come home in a couple of years. I wonder if there will still be Dutch windmill cookies in my grandpa’s cupboards and 7up in the fridge. No one is left to complain about my long hair or to tell me to take off my hat. The world isn’t the same without my grandma, but I know she is excited to be out of body that stopped working well, and that she is happy to be with the God she loves.