Today is my gradmother’s birthday, so I thought it would be fitting to write about her today. I don’t want to be overly sentimental or tear-jerky in anyway, just to jot down some things about her to commemorate her day. On September 5, 2007 my grandma would have been 97 year’s old. She only made it to age 79.
When I was little, I was her only grandchild by her only child so, needless to say, I was born into an already set tradition of only children specialties. I remember her house with its white siding and dark green trim. I remember making it my job to sweep the leaves off of the porch and the sidewalk. My mother would take me to her house on Sunday morning and I would dress up in my church dress and hat (I at least remember wearing the hat once) and braids with ribbons in my hair and the patent leather Mary Janes (I have never outgrown those.) I would go to her Methodist church and meet her her sisters and her friends and they would take me to the little restaurant by the park afterwards for breakfast.
Incidentally, my cousin told me a couple of weeks ago that she use to do the same thing with her extended family when she was a kid. She also said that when she goes home to see our aunts, she goes through to same day with the girls routine.
My grandmother was an organist, worked for the Department of Agriculture as a topographer, had black hair and dark eyes and pale skin. Her younger pictures remind me of me mixed with Olive Oyl because I was never that skinny. Like most girls in the late twenties, she went to school to become a secretary. She made the best food and my mother still to this day has never made the noodles, oysters and chocolate dessert the way she made them. She had an old green Pontiac that she would drive me around in. She left the front door open to watch the rain fall on the porch. She loved shopping and Christmas and her friends and music. Her house looks like my apartment; the obvious pack rat trait runs through and no place is left without a stack of papers of some sort for long.
She berated me for not playing music like everyone else in her family. I love music and musicians but my heart just was never in it to play it. (Although I was a decent piano player at one time.)
She was German, Irish and French. She was older than my grandfather who died when my father was two. She never remarried and moved to the house in town instead of staying at the farm with my dad alone.
If she cussed, you knew she was really mad. She would wash my mouth out with soap if she heard the things I say on a daily basis.
She was always watching old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ movies on TV. If she were alive today, she would love Turner Classic and AMC as much as I do.
She hated cats but liked dogs as long as they didn’t jump on her and make her clothes messy. Her favorite color was pink. She always smelled like Tabu perfume and Cody powder. She was a novice painter. ( I have a couple of paintings of hers that my cousin gave me that I put up in my bedroom — I swear they still have that faint smell.) Her house smelled of candles. She wore big, clunky, flashy jewelry that she even made herself sometimes. She taught me to make sand art (which I referred to as “sand yart back then.) She took me school shopping with my mother every year.
She drank her coffee black and wore bright red Revlon lipstick that came in the metal tubes. She always left a ring on her coffee mugs.
Christmas was the best though. Christmas Eve she would stay up all night and wrap presents for everyone. On Christmas morning, I would open presents with my parents at our house early and then get ready and come to my grandma’s to open presents with her siblings there. So the whole day was filled with people coming and going and eating and opening presents. Christmas has never, ever been as good since she’s been gone. We had a family then and it was way more fun.
When I would get mad at my father I would threaten to call his mother and tell her what he had done. I did it too. I’d pick up my Mickey Mouse phone and call her to tattle on my own father when I was a kid. She just thought it was funny. I use to write letters to her all the time when we moved to Florida and when she died I found all of the letters in my monogrammed tan stationary. She had them in a shoe box next to her chair. They’re at my parents’ house somewhere.
I have her wedding ring too that, if the day ever came, I would have re-sized for my own wedding. Her ring finger was the size of my pinkie.
My last distinct memory of her was going to do back to school shopping when me and Mom came back to her house and ate turtle sundaes. She fell on the back porch that day, trying to carry out an old rug to the garbage. Her heath was never the same after that. The rest of the time I remember her in a night gown and in and out of hospitals. I wasn’t there when she died. I just remember not crying at the funeral.