Arnold Kling's recent touching post about his dying father made me think of my grandmother, who passed away not so long ago.

I forgot to call her when she had her last birthday. I remember thinking, "I must do better next time". I didn't get a chance.

One day I got a call from my father who said: "If you want to see your grandmother alive once more, you had better hurry up." I did.

Grandma was always up for a good laugh. I remember a christmas dinner we had. She was banging on and on about something she found extremely funny; don't remember what it was. When she had calmed down, she took another mouthful of tomato soup, and my dad made another remark on the topic. Upon which she transformed our nice white wallpaper into something that looked like modern art.

My dad's first memory is about how he almost got killed in 1945. The war was over, but an American soldier came to their place and pointed a gun at my father, ranting about how he would kill him. My grandmother put herself in the line and begged him not to do it: "Not the boy, not the boy! Please!" The soldier was drunk. He came round the next day to apologize.

Before I last saw her, I had been warned that her Alzheimer's had been advancing very rapidly recently. I had not been warned that she would look like that, but got over it rather quickly. I must have told her my name seven times that day. But the beautiful thing was that although her memory was in tatters, her character was still the same. She was cracking stupid jokes and almost peed herself laughing about them.

A few days later she was dead.

One of the last times I talked to her before her brain started deteriorating, she suddenly started telling me how she had met her husband, my grandfather. I don't know why; I hadn't asked and I don't remember ever having talked to her before about my grandfather, who died in the war some thirty years before I was born. Maybe she felt her time was running out. I'm paraphrasing, of course:

When Hitler was finally made chancellor, everybody was happy, we were all so relieved. The streets were filled with people celebrating. I went to a dance with friends of mine, and that's where I met your grandfather. He sent over a box of chocolates to our table for me, and after that we danced together. And later we got married and had your father.

I've never said a word, you know?

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