I am so thankful for the gift of memories. There is no way to pick just one. I started thinking about it and realized some of my favorite memories really aren’t a specific moment with someone but many moments and events. Some of my favorite memories that flood my mind involve my grandma.
Memories of a candy dish always full of M&Ms, Fresca, Skinny Cows, Fredent gum. The Grandfather Clock in the hall and always music playing in house. Hours of Phase Ten, Skip-bo, Rummy Cube, Scrabble that involved her making comments about my husband any time he would do well, even when he was trying to help her win. She would always say, “Oh I see, that’s how we are going to play.” Don and I would just laugh because he was throwing stuff away, but it did not help. Her dog Spooky, a little Lhasa Apso and later Sasha, running around and staying by her side. Taking the dog for a walk around the condo community with my boys. Her generosity with my boys. She loved for us to come, and always seemed to have something for them, usually stuffed animals, besides all the sugar she would feed them. She loved to laugh and was always looking for funny cards to send out. She would have me go get them off the little counter by the phone to read them. She got such kick out them.
Further back my memories go to sleeping over, popcorn, and getting to watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Her beautiful garden ( I somehow did not receive her gardening talents). People would actually stop by to see her backyard. It was peaceful and beautiful. Sunday papers at our house after mass. We would sprawl out in the living room and read it. I with the funnies, and grandma with the obituaries, this habit she would do no matter where we were. I guess she just wanted to know the options.
Holidays were huge. We would all gather at her house. There was always turkey and ham, along with many sides, and the best mashed potatoes, and of course seasonal sweets. Christmas brought huge piles of gifts, and Easter large baskets with toys and goodies. She loved to give. In her later years, she would have a stack of wrapped gifts she would have me take over to her special friends at the senior center. She was difficult to buy for, and usually you would end up with your gift back.
If you ever want to know the dirt on all the cast of the Lawrence Welk show, I have you covered. She would have it on in the evening, and she would give you the stories of who married who, who was divorced, and more. Thankfully there was a bit less information when Wheel of Fortune came on, or Jeopardy. She loved to read. One of my favorite memories was when my grandma, cousin, and I swapped books of a series about the country. I remember they were white and there was one for each state in the westward expansion, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the exact series. Her other books were romance or mystery, not my cup of tea but she always had a book going.
Hospitality oozed out of my grandma. I remember one summer my friends worked landscaping at her community, and she took good care of them with goodies and cold drinks. She welcomed whomever I brought over. She connected with so many people and stayed busy. She worked downtown at the mall at Charles of the Ritz make-up counter at McCurdy’s for years. She would tell stories of women who would come to her for their make up, and knew all about them. She would help bring out their beautiful inside, and out, by making them feel special. I remember when I got my license I drove into midtown to meet my grandma to take her for lunch. I felt so grown up, and she made me feel special. She took me around to meet, what seemed like everyone in McCurdy’s. She bragged to everyone about how I was taking her out to lunch. We were very much the same in some ways and so different, she was much fancier. Make-up, jewelry, and nice clothes were definitely and enjoyment. She liked her bling.
As I think of these memories, I think how she was so many different things. She was a strong woman, very opinionated, not always in a good way, but she meant well. She would let you know what she thought, even when you did not ask, but she was loyal, generous, gracious, and welcoming. I think about how young she actually was when my grandpa died, and how long she lived on her own, although she had plenty of male suitors, and she would let you know about them and why they were not her type. She loved my grandpa all her days. I was only five when he passed, which I think changed many things in my extended family, but I think of my grandma and how she became the woman I knew, and how she really took care of my family, and me specifically, in so many way. I am so thankful for the memories. I am thankful for this opportunity to think back and remember this woman, who is so precious to me. So many memories fill my heart with deep gratitude for the gift of getting to know this woman and how much she loved me, and how she loved so many others, especially family.