Three weeks after suffering a massive stroke, my grandmother Elizabeth Santospago (née Munn) has passed away. She was 92 years old.
No one would argue the fact that Elizabeth had some incredibly tough life experiences. Not many people could suffer part of their childhood in a depression-era orphanage and emerge unscathed. Of course her early years were hard. But everyone agrees that Elizabeth’s latter years were especially joyful, living with family and surrounded by love. It is no exaggeration to say that she could almost always be found in her favorite recliner with a child or two in very close proximity, maybe even squished into the chair with her or perched next to her, watching cartoons or sports. Her cheerful, supportive presence has been a constant for all these kids for their entire lives. This win-win arrangement may have been a key factor in her extraordinarily good health these past many years, and certainly has been critical for their overall healthy development.
During her last days in hospice, she was never alone. Family gathered at bedside sharing funny stories and favorite “Betty-isms”. The little ones colored pictures to hang on her wall, and held her hand. On Sunday, we explained to the kids that her soul was getting ready to leave her body and go to heaven, where there were alot of people eagerly awaiting her arrival.
“Does that mean this is her last day on earth?” asked Gio.
Yes, we answered, nodding solemnly.
“Okay.” He thought for a second, then went to her side, grasped her hand, and told her: “Have a happy last day on earth, Grandma! We’ll miss you!”
Yes, though her early years were nothing short of rough, her last days were happy. She had a good life, and has been very good for our family’s life. I went back and pulled some photographs: The recent photos mostly reflect low-key, everyday moments; there are a few family gatherings mixed in. The classic photos show us how shockingly beautiful she was as a young woman, and remind us that although our bodies will inevitably age and fade, our souls can shine and grow to touch generations.
For local folks who would like to attend the service, internment and reception, here is the information.