My grandmother, Betty Lou Heintz, nee Brown, would have been 87 years old today. She died nearly 18 years ago, when she was only 69. I realize that in the larger scheme of human history, 69 has more often than not been an impressive age to which to live. I, at 44, would in many pre-modern cultures have been a great-grandmother, one of the elders of the community — or more likely dead.
But that’s the historian talking. To the granddaughter, 69 was far too young for my grandmother to have been taken from me. She meant more to me than words can say. I wish my daughters could have known her. That’s one of the terrible things about having children late in life: your children don’t get to know their great-grandparents. And in not knowing my Grandma Betty, my girls really did miss out on something special.
I’m crying as I write this. Nearly two decades later, I’m still crying. I miss her so.