Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Frances Ensor Benedict

Our beloved grandmother passed away on Sunday, after 94 years on this earth. She was an amazing woman, a devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who was an enthusiastic democrat in a decidedly red state. Sharp as a whip, she had a wicked sense of humor. And the most beautiful, soft and melodic voice that I could listen to for hours. She was a true Tennessee lass and would occasionally have a Jack Daniels; Which she would generously share, as told by my cousin Gordon who witnessed her give a thimble-full to a stunned bird after it flew into her picture window--causing it to then fly into her chimney. Clearly a little too much Jack! 

She was my first pen-pal, a practice we continued for nearly 25 years until she couldn't really write letters anymore because she had a hard time seeing. Though I continued our tradition, simply writing bigger in hope that even if she couldn't read it, the steady stream of letters and postcards would keep her updated on our goings-on and let her know I was thinking of her, even though I was far away.

She loved family and was passionate about genealogy, spending years researching both the Ensors and Benedicts, even making pilgrimages to England to visit graveyards and hunting down lost records. Five years ago when she moved herself from her home in Cookeville, Tennessee to a retirement home, she hosted our last family reunion blow-out and handed post-it notes to everyone, instructing us to put our names on anything we wanted to take home with us. She had already moved what she would be keeping to her new home, and wanted the family to take the rest before it was donated to charity. I asked for two things: my grandfather's pipe (though Grandma B. wasn't entirely sure if it was my grandfather's or her father's-- but either way, I was happy for the heirloom); and a delicate, hand-painted teacup and saucer that my Grandmother and Grandfather won playing Bingo on their first date when she was 15. A few weeks later, a very heavy box arrived at my apartment in Chicago, carefully addressed in my grandmother's beautiful handwriting. Upon opening it, I found a much loved cast iron skillet. My grandma knew how much I loved to cook, and likely thought that every happy home needed a traditional skillet. Made all the more special knowing it was one that she had cooked with. There was a card, but no note. I guess she just thought that I needed it. :)

I know that I am extremely blessed that I have lived most of my life with doting grandparents. To know the unconditional love of a grandparent as a child is a privilege. To know your grandparent as an adult is an absolute gift.

I love you Grandma B. 

Frances Ensor Benedict
May 16, 1918-September 2, 2012

With Aunty Mikie


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Unknown said...

Really awesome article. I am happy to read this. We also love your grandma. Actually, she is looking very nice in her petite maxi dresses.