Memories of a Feisty Broad: A Tribute to Grandma Anna

It’s been a quiet a week.

Last Friday, my wife’s paternal Grandmother, Anna, died at her home, just a block away from my own, at 90 years of age. Needless to say, it’s been a struggle to wrap any thoughts around planning a date with myself. Instead, please indulge me while I give a quick tribute to this amazing lady – one of my biggest cheerleaders in writing and in life.

Grandma Anna was one of those characters that “broke the mold.” However, honestly, I’m not sure there ever was a mold for her. She had a huge heart – generous beyond compare – and a bigger funny bone – never missing the opportunity for a solid jab. An interesting, but endearing, mix. I’d love to share a sampling of my favorite interactions with her:

  • She truly enjoyed all the entitlements that came with being 90 – namely, never having to filter any comment. Her favorite topic of late was asking me if I’d figured out how to make a baby yet. She *loved* watching me squirm. She’d chuckle after a long, uncomfortable moment of me drenched with sweat and then ask some other family member if they were in love and getting married to the person they started dating a few months prior.

  • At 88, she got a heart-valve replacement. As they wheeled her into to surgery, she grabbed my wife’s arm and told her, “Me and Lin were married for 40 amazing years before he died. You want to know the secret? [Lisa quickly nods]. Make love EVERY day. Hear me, EVERY DAY. For 40 years, we never missed and we were so happy.” (Sure, Grandma’s comment was a bit uncomfortable, but just a small price to pay for a nugget of brilliance. I’ll never be able to thank Grandma enough for that one. Seriously, a bottomless debt.)

  • Every time I saw her (and, keep in mind, we lived a block away), she’d ask me when my book was becoming a movie. Over and over, I’d explain there were a few steps between here and my Hollywood millions. She’d smile, nod, and say she couldn’t wait. Then she’d turn around and tell someone that I was going to be a famous writer and make as much money as that Harry Potter fellow.

  • Grandma Anna could remember the year/model of each car she’d ever owned and the birthdays of every 2nd cousin in Utah, but never the title of a movie she’d just watched…though she always came close enough to get the point across. AS GOOD AS IT GETS became NEVER BEEN BETTER. Then IT’S COMPLICATED transformed into VERY DIFFICULT. Or MEET THE FOCKERS was…well, you know…that one was too easy for even her. Though she enjoyed asking us if we’d seen it in the most public of places.

  • When she heard someone talking about Demi Moore being a ‘cougar’, she started introducing herself as a one and me as her boyfriend. On her last day, she said to me, ‘You’re losing your girlfriend…pretty soon you’ll be stuck with the wife.”

  • I’m from New Mexico and she was from Utah (which flippin’ touch each other). But she always referred to my home state as Mexico (if you’ve EVER met a New Mexican, this is equivalent to farting in our face). One time, she was wearing an obviously southwestern T-shirt (turquoise, silver, and beaded – the whole nine yards). I asked her if it was New Mexican. Her response: “Nah, this thing is old.”

  • Every grandkid’s birthday, she’d hand you a $100 bill as a present. Even me, long before I married into the clan. I was blood to her from the first moment we met.

  • Last Christmas, the family chipped in to buy Grandma a spanking new 47” Sony flat panel LCD TV. Split 20 ways, it wasn’t too expensive and she actually had plenty of money to buy it herself, but she cried and carried on like we’d given her King Tut’s treasure. The night before she died, we watched WHEEL OF FORTUNE with her on it. She was still getting the answers right before the contestants.

Hopefully, I’ve given a blurry snapshot of Grandma Anna’s awesomeness. I’ll miss her a ton. But she would’ve hated me getting any more mushy than that. So, in closing, here’s her final jab…in fact, they were her final words.

“Hey, Lisa…when’s the baby coming?”

Feisty broad until the end, right?


Thank you for giving us a wonderful snapshot of your Grandma Anna. She was an amazing, funny woman and I know she will be missed.

My condolences. Your Grandmother sounded like an amazing woman :-)

She and my Dad would have really hit it off, Bret...they'd have become fast friend and be one upping one another all night...perhaps they are now? Love from here to her, and you and yours...she'll always be with you, carried forever in your heart.

This is s wonderful tribute, Bret. I already knew how much she would be missed by your wonderful family but after reading this, I'm kinda missing her too.

I love this Bret! Thank you.

Patti (Van Poucke) Eiland September 2, 2011 at 7:18 AM

I just loved Anna. I loved how close my sister and her family were to her. I loved how when we were out visiting she would treat us as her own. And I'm so glad you came into Lisa's life in time to experience her and become one of hers.

I love hearing about her last days being full and fun and that she was happy until her last breath.

And, I agree, you are a wonderful writer. You made me cry, and that doesn't happen that often when I read something.

I rejoice at her "homegoing" along with you and the family. We were all blessed to know her.

What a great tribute Bret! I LOVED how Grandma Anna didn't have a filter. It made for lots of uncomfortable yet "very funny later" moments! She will be missed! Love you guys! :-)

Love hearing about Anna! What a lovely tribute. I feel like I know her. Best to you all.

Love. Humor. Persistence. Obviously, a remarkable woman. Thanks for sharing her with us, Bret. Like V, I kinda miss her, too!

The outpouring of love and well wishes for this special lady has been overwhelming. Thank you all.

Sorry for your loss. She sounded like one heck of a woman.

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