Thanks to everyone who’s sent in family keepsakes.
Lisa Drayer, 41, a nutritionist in Manhattan, submitted these shots of her grandmother and “soulmate,” Edie Cooper of Brooklyn, who died in 2013.
She also told me their story.
Edie and her husband, Bernie, raised Lisa’s mom, Barbara, in a Brooklyn housing project. Edie was a bookkeeper at a candy factory; Bernie worked with mainframe computers.
Lisa Drayer got 40 years with her grandmother. They were never closer than at the end.
After graduating from college, Barbara became a teacher, married a dentist, and settled with him in the Long Island suburbs, where they had Lisa and her brother.
Edie and Bernie spent every other weekend on Long Island with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids.
They took Lisa and her brother swimming, biking, and ice-skating. They played cards, dress-up, and doctor.
In high school, Lisa made the kickline squad, and her grandparents became the dancers’ biggest fans.
“They were the biggest help and the biggest joy ever,” she says.
They marveled as their granddaughter got into college, graduated with honors, set up a dietetics practice in Manhattan, and published a book.
In 2007, when she was 33, Lisa got engaged. She shopped with both her mother and her grandmother for a bridal gown.
Six months after the wedding, Bernie, 86, had a heart attack and died.
A year later, when Lisa gave birth to a daughter, she and her husband, David, chose a name beginning with “B” in Bernie’s honor: Brooke. Since Bernie’s Hebrew name was “Baruch,” they made Brooke’s Hebrew name “Berucha.”
Edie was in the delivery room.
Over the next several years, Lisa worked as little as she could. Her daughter and grandmother were what mattered, she realized.
Every Monday, Edie, who was in her late 80s, would travel from Brooklyn to Manhattan to spend the day with Lisa and Brooke. Barbara often joined them.
Brooke got to be great pals with her great-grandma, whom she called G.G. By the time she was three, Brooke liked playing doctor with Edie as much as Lisa had.
Soon, Lisa and David had a second daughter, Elle.
Since Lisa was so busy with the girls, Edie sometimes worried that her visits were an imposition.
“Grandma, you don’t understand,” Lisa recalls saying. “You’re my priority. The haircut can wait; the doctor’s appointment can wait; work I can do another day.”
“Monday is about you.”
In the summers, Edie would join Lisa, David, and their daughters for beach vacations on the East End of Long Island.
On days when she didn’t see her grandmother, Lisa talked to her by phone or Skype. They exchanged emails and letters regularly.
Lisa also kept in close touch with Edie’s doctors. Edie was in good health, but Lisa worried.
In 2013, when Edie turned 90, Lisa and her family had her over for a slumber party. They all went to dinner and a performance of The Lion King.
By then, Lisa was 39, Brooke was nearly four, and Elle was one.
A few weeks later, Edie suffered a stroke. Six days after that, she died.
In the year and a half since then, Lisa has missed her grandmother every day. So she often rereads the last letter she got from her, which was addressed to both her and David:
“Thank you for the most delicious birthday I ever had. It’s beyond belief how wonderfully well you always treat me—and don’t think I don’t appreciate it.
Words can’t express my feelings for you both. I thank you so much for all you did and do for me.
Also, thank you for the beautiful dividends you produced. What a beautiful family!
Thanks and thanks again for all the pleasures you give me.
All my love,
I’m always collecting more keepsakes from readers. If you’d like to share some, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll reply quickly. Thank you.