I'm very sorry to report that my grandmother, Christine Beyerstein, passed away yesterday. It's some consolation that she was 95 years old and in excellent health until about a week before her death.
Nana was a very strong woman. Her zest for life was undiminished by adversity.
To say she was a devoted mother and grandmother would be an understatement. She lavished love on her family and friends. My mom likes to say that Nana was the perfect mother-in-law--loving, supportive, and genuinely accepting.
She loved parties and she never showed up without a home-baked treat. I started baking with Nana when I was five. Every time I roll out a pie crust, I'm grateful to have had a 25-year apprenticeship with the master.
I'm always going to remember why Nana was never confirmed in the Lutheran Church. The pastor asked the class to forswear dancing. Christine loved to dance and she wasn't about to give it up to please anyone. In their church, the dance ban was a formality even in those days, but Nana absolutely refused to make a promise she wasn't going to keep. "I'm going to keep dancing, and so are all of you," she told her classmates. So, she failed confirmation--a minor scandal for the daughter of a single mother in a small Alberta town during the Great Depression.
Her quiet but firm refusal happened 80 years ago, but it symbolizes the self-possession and independence of mind that Nana displayed throughout her life.
Christine Beyerstein was a remarkable woman. We're going to miss her tremendously, but we're grateful to have been part of her exemplary life.