On 8/25/11 around 10:40 in the morning, my grandmother, Hazel Beverly, lost her battle for life, passing away peacefully at the nursing home I’ve talked about lately. The only saving grace to the entire affair is that she left the world without turmoil and wasn’t alone, although the family wasn’t there. She was 90 years of age.

my grandmother Hazel

Miss Hazel, as I called her, was one of the coolest women you’d ever meet. I don’t mean she was hip, so to speak. In a way she would remind you of the kind of cool that people used to ascribe to Dean Martin, only without the alcohol and the wise cracking.

She was steady as a rock, no matter the circumstance. I almost hesitate to tell this story but it’s a true one and my mother doesn’t read this blog anyway. 🙂

When I was 10 years old we lived with my grandmother while my dad was in Vietnam. On this one very strange day her dog, a poodle, started barking like crazy. My grandmother walked back to the kitchen with a cool stride, not rushed at all, and saw the dog was barking at the back of the refrigerator. Without rushing she pulled two cribs out, one that used to be mine from what I’m told and one she had for some other baby that I never knew anything about. She put one at one door and put one at the other door.

Next thing you know a rat had come out from behind the refrigerator and started running, with the dog running after it. She just stood there on the outside watching the entire thing without any kind of reaction. I was mesmerized and scared, as I’d never seen a rat to that point, and could only see a part of the spectacle; no way I was getting close.

Just as the dog got the first one another rat came out and he started chasing that one down. My grandmother still just stood there watching the entire affair, while I kind of freaked, though I didn’t make any noise.

My grandfather came to the house just as the dog had gotten the second one. My grandmother turned to look at him and said “Alex, Pierre’s killed two rats already but I think there’s another one coming.” It was so matter of fact, as if this was a daily occurrence, though it wasn’t; trust me on this one.

At this point my grandfather stood there with her as the third rat, bigger than the first two came out. Again the dog was up to the task, and both of them just stood there watching everything happening, up close and personal, while I waited for the rat to remember that it had the ability to leap and come after me.

No, it never happened. The dog chased the third one down, and he had blood all over his face. When it was killed my grandfather went in and took care of the rats, my grandmother pulled the two cribs away from the doors, then walked with that very cool stride and said to me “I don’t think we should mention this to your mother”, who was upstairs and totally oblivious to everything.

And I didn’t mention it to my mother for 30 years, and when I finally told her my grandmother was there. My mother looked at her and said “Mom, why didn’t you say anything back then.” My grandmother said “Because you’d have overreacted.”

Cool, calm and collected; she was like that all the years I’ve known her. She used to put pictures of these fat birds I drew for her up on her wall; she even put the one Superman I tried to draw, who was also fat, on her wall. She crocheted me a bowling ball knocking over bowling pins that I still have somewhere around here almost 40 years later.

She was smart for a lady that dropped out in 8th grade when she got married; yup, got married at 13. She did many things, and almost got a nursing degree until they realized she hadn’t graduated high school. Not many careers for women back then without a high school diploma so she did a variety of jobs. She never wavered, never complained, just did her thing and moved on. I’m serious, this sense of cool was something else.

I have a few other stories but I’ll leave those for the family. Miss Hazel, you will be missed.
 

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