(Grandma and Edie, 1972)
My paternal grandmother, Esther Schotting, passed away on this date in 1979. She and my grandfather raised me for the most part; they and the late Earle Wittpenn are mainly responsible for the person I am today. I remember her watching me as I walked home from elementary school in the afternoon, or crossing Eighth Avenue to go to Isaly's or McCrory's. She was always at a window, always looking for me.
In her last years, when I was changing buses to go to my job in Pittsburgh, she was there in the window in the apartment on Ann Street. I probably looked like an idiot, waving in the dark to no one visible. But I knew she was there.
The only time I ever saw my grandmother in a church was when I got married. She claimed she was an "old-time Baptist" and liked listening to Mahalia Jackson records and watching Billy Graham on the tv.
The local Baptist minister graciously agreed to conduct her service. I was holding up pretty well during the service, until he ended his eulogy to a woman he never met with a poem by Margaret Widdemer that precisely described her:
She always leaned to watch for us,
Anxious if we were late,
In winter by the window,
In summer by the gate.
And though we mocked her tenderly,
Who had such foolish care,
The long way home would seem more safe
Because she waited there.
Her thoughts were all so full of us,
She never could forget!
And so I think that where she is
She must be watching yet.
Waiting till we come home to her,
Anxious if we are late,
Watching from Heaven’s window,
Leaning on Heaven’s gate.