She had a daughter, Rebecca (called Becky) and son, William Michael (called Mike). She had five grandchildren: Mick, Bill, me, Amy, and Deanna. And five great grandchildren: Chris, Brandi, Taylor, Sydney, and Braden. And she had numerous pets throughout the years.
When Amy and I were little, we were lucky to live in the same town as all of our grandparents. And to distinguish between them, we started calling Grandma Short, Grandma Kitty-Cat. After all, she had a cat (Marshmallow) and Grandma Anderson didn't. Yes, even as children, my sister and I were very sensible. Grandma Kitty-Cat also had a dog, a vicious little Pekingese called Happy. I think because Happy + kids = Happy Bites, we tended to fixate on the cat more than the dog when thinking of Grandma.
Grandma Kitty-Cat worked at the local library for most of my childhood. Many times she'd get to take the old children's books home that the library was replacing. I have several of those beloved books in my collection now. To me, it was only natural to go to the library and read or borrow books. And when Grandma went to the library for her own reading, she'd take two big bags of books in and come out with two big bags of books. I know, I've had to carry them before.
Grandpa Short died in 1982, much to the surprise of everyone. Grandma carried on, however. And it wasn't long before her youngest granddaughter arrived into our lives. Soon Deanna and Aunt Becky moved in with Grandma. It was Deanna and her friends who started calling Grandma Kitty-Cat (now owning more than just one cat) "Granny." With Aunt Becky herself becoming a grandma, "Granny" worked out great for distinguishing between the generations.
Granny and her sisters (there were 7 Lowry girls total, don't forget) were avid card players. Granny has even been known to get a little upset (heh - understatement) during a really riveting game of cards. Dad was most likely scarred from these early card playing days, but Becky inherited her mother's love of card games. And so did all of her granddaughters. Just ask judiang sometime about playing cards with the Shorts. :-)
When dad retired from teaching, Granny discovered she had breast cancer. Dad now had more free time on his hands, so he was able to take her to chemo and various doctor's appointments. Granny decided she could have two reactions to the cancer - laugh or cry. She decided to laugh. And she beat the cancer.
Granny was feisty that way. She did things her way. She wasn't afraid to argue with you. But she loved absolutely. Despite her conservative upbringing, she accepted Amy as a lesbian and loved Rachel as another granddaughter. They were just her "girls." She accepted judiang as a friend, even though her own father would probably have turned over in his grave to know she'd befriended a black woman. Granny was evidence that old dogs could learn new tricks.
Granny was a staunch Republican, but she loved her liberal minded family just the same. Oh, she'd still argue and complain, but she knew we didn't always agree with her politically. And she would joke along with us about her conservatism. During the 2000 elections, she said to me "I don't care who you vote for, as long as you don't vote for Gore." So, of course, my advice to her in 2004 was "I don't care who you vote for, as long as you don't vote for Bush."
Granny wasn't big on expressing herself. Whenever I'd say "I love you, Grandma" she'd reply "I know." Amy and I realized that this was just how she said "I love you, too" back.
Just before Christmas of this year, Granny wound up in the hospital for one condition, only for them to realize her blood chemistry was all screwed up and she was close to death. She got over that issue, but was too weak to return home. So we got her into Covington Care Center, a local nursing home. The folks there were very good to her and she complimented them often. Her goal was to get strong enough to return home to see her cats and "the damn dog." But other health issues kept coming between her and her goal.
Her last stint in the hospital was when they finally started to figure out what was wrong with her. It turns out the cancer from her breast had made its way to her bones. It's quite possible that many of her recent health issues were due to the high levels of calcium in her blood brought about by the cancer. And we were warned that this was going to be painful.
Yesterday morning, Granny was at the Home and in pain - her back mostly. They called my father to see if they should issue her morphine and dad said yes. We wanted Granny to be as comfortable as possible. The nurse gave her one of those under-the-tongue morphine pills and rubbed her back. Granny thanked her and said she thought she'd take a nap. At 10:10am, she passed away. She was in no pain.
We're having the viewing and funeral on Sunday. Amy's coming in tonight (yay!) and Rachel's coming in tomorrow (yay!), so we'll have the whole family together for this event. On Monday, we're having a private family interment at the cemetery. I think I'd like to say something that day, but I don't know if I'll be able to without crying.
If you get a chance, next time you read a book or pet a cat or play a nice game of cards, think about the feisty ladies like Phyllis/Mom/Grandma/Granny and the wonderful impact they've had on the lives of others. I know I certainly will.
I'm gonna miss my Granny. She was the last of my grandparents. She was a lover of books and of cats and of card playing, and probably the main reason I, too, am a lover of books and of cats and of card playing. I love you, Grandma! ("I know.")