The Tragic Optimist


My grandma died Thursday night. She was 88, and had been in a nursing home since February recovering from a fall. We had hoped that she would be able to come back to live with my parents once she’d gotten a bit stronger and regained some balance. But she fell sick with pneumonia, and then on Thursday morning was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. I booked train tickets for Zoe and I to get out there Friday (yesterday). That evening, after my parents had left grandma at the hospital – she was apparently excited to see Zoe – they got a call from the hospital to come back, as her breathing was getting more labored. By the time they got to the hospital, she was gone. I guess it wasn’t unexpected, but we weren’t ready, I had been looking forward to this visit, and to one in June to see her while my parents were away.

grandma and Zoe this summer

grandma and Zoe this summer

Edith Louise was born on November 15, 1920, in Wernau, Germany to Bertha and Albert. At age 2, her parents brought her and her younger sister Elsie to Baltimore, MD

She and Frank Constanti were married on Nov. 15, 1942. They had one son, Richard Frank on October 21, 1947. Frank preceded her in death on April 12, 1969. She was also preceded by her father Albert Liebold in 1973, her mother Bertha Louis in 1981, and her sister Elsie in 2007.

She later moved to South Dakota, Colorado, Indiana, and to live near her son, Rich, his wife Patsy, and their children, Ann and Carl. She proudly became a US citizen when she was 74 years old, in Indianapolis, IN, in the fall of 1994.

She is survived by her son, Richard, daughter-in-law Patsy, her grandchildren Ann and her husband Chris and their daughter Zoe, and Carl and his wife Roopa. She is also survived by niece Erika of Baltimore, MD.

~ ~ ~

I know that she did not always have an easy life, but for me, she was always one who laughed easily, and laughed heartily.  When she really got laughing, she’d laugh so hard, all you could hear were these little squeaks as she tried to catch her breath.  It would always crack my brother up, which would send her in to fits of laughing again.  They could keep each other in stitches for hours.  She let my brother and I explore and experiment as much as we wanted.    I think she did as much as anyone to encourage in both of us our curiosity and sense of wonder.    We’d make chocolate dipped pretzels for Christmas, but the best part was when we’d run out of pretzels and scour her kitchen for any other ingredients that might or might not be good covered in chocolate, but would at least be fun to try (and she did enjoy the chocolate covered bacon at the state fair this year).  One afternoon, she was watching my brother and I at our house where we had those really little champagne grapes.  Upon tasting one, she declared that they tasted like wine, so we should try an experiment to make wine.  We smashed the little grapes with our fingers in the bowl and then set it aside.  We learned nothing about wine-making from that, but we did learn about mold growth when my mom found that bowl months later on top of the refrigerator.  I think my brother and grandma and I were laughing too hard at the whole thing to adequately explain to my mom what was going on.  At my brother’s wedding 2 years ago, Chris and I left early with Zoe and asked if she wanted to ride with us back to the hotel.  No.  She was having too much fun on the dance floor.

I miss her.



  1. I’m so sorry for loss, Ann.

    May your sorrow be brief and your memories be everlasting.

    Thinking of you.

  2. We’re thinking of you Ann…take care and hug each other hard. Be well and know that your friends are thinking of you.

  3. What a lovely tribute to your grandmother. It sounds like she had a wonderful spirit and gave you some wonderful and irreplaceable gifts. I’m so sorry you weren’t able to say good-bye in person. Wishing you peace and comfort.

  4. I am so sorry, Ann. She sounds like she was a special, unique woman who left lots of love with her family.

    Thinking of you.

  5. CJ

    That is a beautiful tribute to your grandma. I am so sorry for your loss… it is so sad when beloved grandparents pass. You have my prayers.

  6. elizabeth

    Ann, I am so sorry. Your Grandma sounds like such a lovely, loving person. I am thinking of you and your family.

  7. geeksinrome

    I’m so sorry. Grandparents are so special. It’s so sad when they leave.

  8. So very sorry Ann ~ thinking of you & your family!!

  9. Eve

    So terribly sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was an amazing woman.

  10. Danya

    Ann, what lovely memories of your grandmother. She sounds wonderful. We’re thinking of you.

  11. Jody

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I will always remember your Grandma sitting in church and her wonderful smile 🙂 My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family!

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