Today would have been my grandma’s 101st birthday. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.

Like all the women in my family, my grandmother Doris could be (ahem) very difficult. She was particularly hard on my mother and my eldest brother. But she loved Al and me, and we loved her. She baked us wonderful scones, read us stories and loved to sing and play the piano for us. She painted china in her last years, pretty roses with a wavering line that was somehow very characteristically her.

That makes her sound very little-old-lady, and she wasn’t. She was thin and sharp, rather like Maggie Smith, with long, elegant hands holding perpetual cigarettes, and a splendid beak of a nose. A strong, prejudiced, devout, strange, imperious old Englishwoman, who never recovered from the death, the year I was born, of her beloved husband Jack. She outlived him by more than 25 years, a fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

When she died in 1996 I was in Ireland with Jeremy, so I didn’t go to her funeral. I still miss her.

Drum parade all morning, right outside my office window, to celebrate San Francisco’s resurrection. Very bittersweet, because we all know this beautiful city will shake and burn again.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.