After 93 wonderful years on Earth, my sweet grandmother, Patricia McCrone passed away on May 12th, 2020. She was a truly amazing woman – loving, godly, steadfast, and unshakeable. The past year in particular, since losing her husband, was difficult for her, but still she made the best of it. She struck up friendships with so many in the apartments and eventually nursing home where she lived. Meal times and group activities were a highlight of each day for her. Even as her health declined, she did not let it bring her spirits down.
I will miss the holidays, Sunday phone calls, and hugs. I will miss her kind smile. I think the hardest thing is knowing that Blaise won’t get to grow up experiencing her love, nor will any other children we may have. With her passing, as the last of my grandparents, the anchor which had tethered our family to Eastern Ohio has been loosed. Life will be different in so many ways over the coming months and years as we adjust to the absence of her warm presence.
From my earliest memories, my grandma was sweet, soft-spoken, and cheerful. She looked forward to baking cookies and making hard-tack candy for us every holiday season, and all the better if we were there to help her. She had a love for animals and owned several cats over the years, at least one of which was a stray she took in. As I grew up, we would often go and stay for a week with my grandparents during the summer. Every day brought some kind of treat, whether a special lunch she knew we would like, a trip to Tuscora Park, or a VHS tape rental from the video store in town. We would often walk around the block or sit on the front porch and play “the car game”; we would choose a color and get points for each vehicle of that color which drove past. Those were simple, beautiful times. When I learned the guitar in high school, she enjoyed any chance to sit and listen to me play, always encouraging me. As I grew older, the visits became less frequent. Still, any time I went to Ohio, I knew she was there waiting to spoil me, even as an adult.
Sadly, I don’t know as much about her early life as I wish I did. She and her sister were raised in Port Washington, Ohio in a rough home. From an early age they clung to each other and learned to make their way in the world. She graduated from high school, and some time after that began dating my grandfather when he came back from the war. Theirs is truly a classic love story like so many of that generation. They dated for several years before eloping in 1948, and they remained married for over seventy years until my grandfather passed.
Perhaps one reason I don’t know as much about her earlier life is because it was so thoroughly lived in service to her family and others. She stayed at home to raise my mother and uncle, and at times she worked as a teacher’s aide at the local school. As my mom tells it, their house was always “the place to be” on Friday nights, largely due to my grandma’s hospitality and generosity. She loved having kids around, and she enjoyed every moment of baking cookies and serving Cokes. One of my favorite stories is the time she welcomed a literal hobo into their home. He had hopped off a train passing through their small town, and the tracks ran just behind their house. She provided him a hot meal and perhaps a bath before blessing him on his way. (It seems insane to think of anyone doing that today.) But that was the generous spirit of my grandma, faithful to the teachings of Jesus.
Although she did not grow up in a Christian home, once she came to faith, she sought to please the Lord with everything she had. She and my grandfather were faithful members of the Church of Christ in town until their last days. One of the hardest parts of her final years was that she did not often get to gather and worship with the church. Those a cappella hymns, echoing off of the vaulted auditorium ceiling, were a constant in her life no matter the storms she was facing.
Although we mourn her, it is that same faith, passed down through her, which gives our family peace. She is no longer in pain, feeble, nor frail. She is whole and reunited with my grandfather in the perfect presence of her Creator. As I told Dolly this morning, “She’s having a better day than we are,” and I know that will be true until we one day join her.
I love you, Grandma. We will surely miss you here, but we also know that we will be together again before we know it.