Monday, May 08, 2006

The memorial service for Gramma was on Saturday. Neither Mom nor I made the trip - plane tickets were too pricey and I still have very little time off. I would like to have gone, been with the family, and shared in their memories of Gramma, but since moving away from our homestate 12 years ago, Mom and I saw Gramma maybe once a year for the first several years, then rarely once she went into the nursing home. In a way I'm glad my memories of her are of when she was healthier and herself.

An aunt and a cousin collected memories of Gramma from her grandkids. Two of my cousins shared theirs via e-mail. Funny and touching. This is mine:

My earliest memories of Gramma are of riding in her car. She used to let me sit on the armrest in the middle of the front seat. This was something Grandpa P* would get onto her about, knowing it wasn’t a safe place for a little kid to sit (honestly, he was years before his time on that one). Gramma knew I was too small to see out the windshield without a booster, so she and I would pretend that I sat on the real seat, but as soon as we pulled out of the driveway, I’d climb onto the armrest. Our rides were generally to one of two places: either the drive-up teller at the bank, which meant a lollipop for me and a people cracker for Dottie**, or to Marcus Dairy for ice cream.

I loved summertime at Gramma’s. She’d take me to J’s pool and let me swim till I was exhausted. I don’t think she ever got in the pool, nor do I remember her wearing a bathing suit – she always wore one of her summer dresses and a hat. She’d sit under an umbrella and watch me or chat with one of the other ladies. When we got thirsty, she’d give me change to buy sodas from the clubhouse fridge. When we’d get back to her house, I’d freeze until I changed out of my wet bathing suit. Gramma always kept the air conditioner on high to deal with the “dreadful” Connecticut heat. I never could understand how she was comfortable with the house at 60 in the summer and 80 in the winter. It’s one of those Gramma mysteries.

One of the best parts of spending time over at Gramma’s house was her extensive collection of hats, purses, shoes, and costume jewelry. She’d allowed me free reign of her closet and I’d spend hours playing dress up. In high school, she loaned me evening bags for proms and dances.

Gramma was always good to Mom and me when Mom needed a babysitter in a pinch. I know it frequently was a struggle for Mom to find a reliable person to watch me, especially on short notice when I was sick with strep…which was often. Gramma would come to our house and sit quietly with me. Sometimes she’d read to me, otherwise she’d knit, watch tv, or read a book of her own. I don’t think she ever knew how comforting it was for me to have her there.

When I was older, Mom would often have Gramma over for dinner on Sunday and many times we’d drive over to NY State to look for dirt roads. Gramma would comment that soon “Little S” would be driving and how much she’d worry about me. Mom and I would pass a silent look – by then Gramma‘s car bore numerous scrapes and dents. When asked about her car, she’d claim someone must have hit her car in the parking lot, although she did once admit to scraping against a tractor trailer in The Windmill’s parking lot.

It seems Gramma had several versions of “winter’s coming”. I always thought goldenrod was the harbinger of winter!

Peeps, RC Cola, purple, and butterflies will always remind me of Gramma. I hope wherever she is, she’s in her comfy chair, with a cup of hot tea.

*Grandpa P was legally blind, so he had no idea where I was sitting if he happened to look out the window at us.

**Dottie was Gramma's beloved long-haired chihuahua. My cousin has memories of her being aggressive, but she was always a sweetheart with me. The only time I ever heard her bark was at the garbage truck. She may have had a thing against men. Her later dog, not so nice.

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