It’s hard to believe it’s already been two weeks since my grandmother, Dorothy C. Campbell, passed. She was an amazing woman – mother to eight children, grandmother to 20, and great-grandmother to another 20. Somehow, even with so many of us to love, she managed to make each of us feel special to her.
I have tons of amazing memories with Grammy – from when I was little and she taught me how to crochet, to my older years when I would bring her favorite “torpedo” from Milan’s Pizza and spend the afternoon at her apartment with her.
But my most favorite memory is the conversation I had with her after she gave me a framed print from her home. It read, “It doesn’t matter where you go in life… it’s who you have beside you.” A sweet enough sentiment, but even more powerful with the story of how she came to give it to me.
My mom had always warned me that I could not tell my Catholic, Bill O’Reilly loving grandmother that I was gay because it would be too much for her. Out of respect for my mom, I never did. Eventually, though, my mom decided it was time to tell her…
I was dreading telling my mother because I wasn’t sure how she would accept it. Then one day as we were driving to New Hampshire to do some shopping I decided that I would tell her. I told her you were very happy and that you were gay. She looked at me and said she was happy for you and that was all that was important was your happiness. I really couldn’t believe how accepting she was at her age and from her generation. It was an amazing afternoon.
A few years later when Kendra and I were wedding planning, my mom called me to let me know that Grammy had a small present for us, and I needed to pick it up from her. It was the print. I was blown away when I opened it, and immediately started crying. My next move was to pick up the phone and call Grammy. Here’s our conversation:
Grammy, thank you so much for the picture. I love it!
Oh I am so glad Jenny! I just kept looking at it hanging in my house and I thought of you and Kendra, and I kept thinking, it’s just so true! But it wasn’t right, so I called up Janet Lambert Moore (a local artist) and I said to her, ‘Janet, I have these two girls I love very much, and they are lesbians, and I need your help with something.’ And she came to my apartment, and I showed her the picture and told her I needed her help, and she fixed it for me!
What Janet Lambert Moore fixed was that the little blue girl in a dress was actually a little boy, and my grandmother wanted it changed so it would be perfect for me and Kendra. The fact that she called a local artist to make the change… that she said the word lesbian… it all meant so much to me, and was just another example of her enduring love for me, and for all of us.
I miss her deeply. I know we all do.