My awesome grandmother

I know that many bloggers use their blogs as a sort of public diary, sharing personal reflections and experiences. I haven’t spent much time contemplating my goals for this blog. I write about writing. I share my book news. I make you listen to my silly stories about life in NYC with the husband and the Duffer. But today I’m sharing with you the reason why I was laying low during the last week. Frances Benbow Burke, one of the fabulous grandmothers to whom I dedicated my third novel, passed away Tuesday morning in Houston, Texas. She was 101.

My grandmother was a real live wire. Many of you in Texas met her during her youthful 90’s at my early readings at Murder by the Book. At my first reading in 2003, I watched with nervousness as she made her way from the parking lot with her walker. I stopped worrying when she encountered an untrimmed hedge trespassing on the sidewalk; she lifted the walker over her head and continued on her way. Inside, she watched with such pride and a beaming smile as I read some pretty foul stuff from Chapter 1. I apologized later for the bad language and she said, “Oh, darling, I couldn’t hear a word you were saying, but you looked so happy.”

She and Sean bonded the first time they met. I was telling her a story and paused to make sure she knew what an email was. She said, “Of course I know what an email is. I’m old, not stupid. Now consider yourself reprimanded.” The last time I saw her in August, she complimented my new short haircut, but then couldn’t resist holding her fingers a half inch apart: “Maybe just a little shorter,” she strongly suggested.

I could go on, but the point of all my memories was that Polly, as she was known, truly was a force to be reckoned with and remembered, with a strong wit and sharper tongue and enough personality to fill a ballroom for her 100th birthday party. I’m proud to have her genes. Goodbye, Grandmother. I will miss our visits.