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Chris Graham: The smartest, toughest lady I ever will know

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granny-obitIt doesn’t happen as often lately, but I still occasionally get the urge to call my grandmother to talk whenever there’s a juicy bit of news or gossip.

Unfortunately, the lady that most of us knew as Granny, and to the world was known as Peggy Decker, isn’t with us anymore. Today would have been her 89th birthday.

If there’s a reason that I do what I do, it’s because of two people – my grandfather, Paul, from whom I learned the value of hard work, and my grandmother, from whom I picked up both a terrifying fear of heights and also the never-ending thirst for knowledge that drives me to want to learn at least one new thing every day.

I was fortunate to be able to spend more time with them growing up than most grandchildren get to spend with their grandparents. Granddaddy put me to work on some of his home-building projects; Granny passed on her willingness to pitch in on community projects and political campaigns.

It was around the dinner table before and after meals on weekends where Granny would tell me stories about growing up, about life during World War II, about raising six kids in the 1950s and 1960s, about … anything and everything.

The only time I remember us differing on anything was in the 2008 elections. I liked Barack Obama from the get-go; she wanted Hillary Clinton, because she thought Hillary was tough, one, and two, because she said she wanted to be able to vote for a woman for president before she died.

She passed away in January 2009, a week before the presidential inauguration that year. I think she would have held out another week to be able to see Clinton take the oath had she been elected.

She also loved to speculate wildly on what was really going on behind the scenes on the big stories of the day. Murder trials, political intrigue, sports coaches getting hired and fired – there was a story behind the story, and it was at her feet that I learned to question the conventional wisdom to the nth degree.

I can imagine spending countless hours debating the two sides of the Trayvon Martin and Jody Arias trials and breaking down the polls in the 2012 presidential election and trying to explain to her why UVa. football may never be again what it was under George Welsh.

We all miss you, Granny. Hope you’re resting in peace.

 

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