Skip to main content


By September 4, 2007thoughts

Mattie has been a part of my life since my mother was three years old. She took care of us all. She took care of everybody. The number of people who feel as though Mattie “belongs” to them is staggering. Every time we went to visit her (which was, of course, not nearly enough), her house was abuzz with people. Some were living with her, some were visiting, some popped in to fix the tile in the bathroom, some brought lunch. But we were never alone. And Mattie loved it that way.

“This my baby’s baby,” is how she would introduce me to the people I didn’t know. “You know. She’s Judy’s baby,” she would continue, as if that was the missing information they needed, and now we could all just have a good time together.

My mom was her baby. Has always been. So it followed that I was her baby’s baby. Have always been.

The love and devotion that poured out of Mattie was inexhaustible. And being on the receiving end of it was enough to propel you forward like a superhero. 15 or so years ago, when I first brought Bob home, Mattie claimed him, calling him “my Bob” (as in her Bob) within the first few hours of knowing him. Not that I didn’t already know what a find Bob was, but having Mattie’s emphatic approval was, in a way, more important than having my parents’. If she loved you, she couldn’t do anything but love you. And that love made you the luckiest person alive at that moment. Even on my last visit with her, when she couldn’t keep her eyes open for more than a few seconds at a time, she smiled at my presence, her hand reaching out for me like a lifeline. As though she had been waiting for me to come. As though I could make a difference.

Her aging seemed unlikely and accidental. As though we could have prevented it if we had only been a little more attentive. In the end, though, she slipped out of our grasp and died of old age. Gracefully, peacefully, deservedly surrounded by people who loved her. And yet, selfishly, the thought that I will never see Mattie again is almost more than I can bear. I can barely even type those words, as though they are a betrayal of some half truth that might not come to pass if I keep it inside.

In truth, there aren’t many things that could leave me more helplessly broken-hearted. Cleanly, jaggedly, painfully broken-hearted.

Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Adam Cohen says:

    beautiful tribute, laurie.

    and on the lighter side: she potty-trained me. (and loved reminding me of that every time i saw her.)

  • Busy Mom says:

    I’m so sorry. I had a Mattie, too.

  • Susie says:

    Your words about Mattie were beautiful and so loving. I had the pleasure of meeting her at your wedding. I remember you introduced her as your grandmother and explained to me her place in your life. The loss of a treasured “elder” whether actual grandparent or adopted grandparent is so uniquely painful. I so feel your sense of grief and heartbreak. I’m sending you a big hug, the kind you’ll have to break out of cause I won’t do it first.

  • ruth Cohen says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more.
    I am so sorry for your loss.
    She will be missed by all of us especially when we taste her recipes.


    Aunt Ruth

  • Oh, I’m so sorry. “Mothers” like Mattie are few and far between. How blessed you were to have her in your life. Love to you and your family.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Glennia says:

    Oh man, Laurie, now I’m crying at work again. I’m so sorry for your loss. This part got me: “…her hand reaching out for me like a lifeline. As though she had been waiting for me to come. As though I could make a difference.” I’m sure it did make a difference. I’m sure it did.

  • Mary says:

    Oh Laurie I’m so sorry!! I remember her well and especially her wonderful chicken pot pies. She was very special!

  • Paula says:

    She truly was a special loving lady, Laurie, and your words describe that so well. Much love

  • Ruth says:

    Laurie, that was a beautiful tribute. She sounds like an amazing lady. I’m so sorry.

  • Jennifer says:

    tears… so sorry, and let your mom know I’m thinking of her too.

  • She sounds lovely. I am so sorry for your loss.

    We should all have such love in our lives.

  • Pretty Lush says:

    You were lucky to have such an incredible person in your life. A wonderfully written tribute to a seemingly wonderful woman.

  • design mom says:

    This post was so beautiful. What a wonderful, worthy tribute.

  • I felt the exact same way about my grandfather (he died three years ago at the age of 102). When I’d walk in the room, there was always a smile when he saw me, there was always love in his embrace, there was always patience, there was always time … You were sooooo lucky to have Mattie in your life. So many people will never know the kind of love you describe. I really enjoyed getting to know Mattie (a bit) and feel she was also lucky to have you. Thanks

Leave a Reply