Taffy died on June 10th at the age of 92 and 11/12ths. Among other things, Taffy was my age.
I wrote a more ‘formal’ obituary, as did my cousin, for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but I don’t think I can really express what it was that was Taffy to me. I don’t even think I’m doing a good job now. Taffy was insanely complicated, ribald, offensive, hilarious, brash, loving, determined, and crazy as an old bat. I loved her to pieces. In her heyday, she was amazing and changed the lives of so many people … I can’t even begin to count them all.
My friend Jen complained that she’d now never get to meet Taffy, and that summarizes my greatest regret of all this. Most of you never got to meet her in her prime.
How can I possibly explain to you this wild woman? I pride myself on my words and they fail me here. I am awash in emotions that build up, empty, and leave me with a hangover, only to repeat the cycle again. Every hug reopens the hole in my heart for the woman who made so many of us who we are. She took me to my first Broadway musical (Gypsy) and cried with me when we watched Titanic: The Musical. She put up with my crazy Episcopal school, my woodsy boarding one, and when I dropped out of college? That was okay, too.
Never once did I call her grandma… Okay maybe once or twice when I was giving her shit, or trying to get her attention. In a recent Thanksgiving, I replayed a family joke on her “May I flush your jacket down the toilet, grandma?” I lost Marmoset’s day to her this year, and I’m glad. As a little kid, I ran around the warehouse like a loon, I was a pampered princess eating lamb chops on an ET tray in her sofa bed, watching Dukes of Hazzard. We went to the art museum and everywhere else. We walked down streets in a hundred cities, eating ice cream, looking at toys. She took me to FAO Schwartz when it was ‘all that’ and I only wanted one toy. She never forgot Scarlett was my favorite GI Joe. She always made me Jiffy Pop popcorn and red Jell-o. We ate great food, mixed drinks, and generally were larger than life.
Maybe that’s why everything feels so small right now.
I’m going to miss the midnight phone calls, the random comments about cute butts, the demands that I make anti-Lebron websites. The dinners. I’m going to miss the crazy dinners. I’m going to miss being a Huft Girl and I’m going to miss baseball games. Taffy and I were very close. I’ve come to understand that most people love their grandparents, but not in quite the way I did. I know it’s a grandparent’s job to grow old first and die, but all my life, Taffy wasn’t old. She was young. She was my age. She was Robin to my Batman. She never judged me (though she did reprimand me and tell me not to be stupid). She loved me and I loved her.
She wasn’t my grandmother, she was my best friend.
If you knew her, I’m collecting stories about her at Taffys.org. Please consider making a donation to Shaking With Laughter. You can do so by Paypal or by check (made out to SWL). Include your address and make a note on the confirmation page that the donation is for the Yes…I Can (!) Dance program. Call 216.570.4080 for any questions or visit the website: www.shakingwithlaughter.org