Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Memories of my Gram




So my Grandma died late Sunday night (or really early Monday morning, depending on how you look at it). I'm bummed, though I know it's what she wanted. She was 94 and had outlived her husband, many of her siblings and friends, and one of her children. She was ready to go.

I'm supposed to speak at the funeral on Friday, which I am honored to do, but I'm afraid I won't do her justice, or tell really inappropriate stories (ie the time Gram saw Travis naked). So I figured I'd brainstorm here and see what I could remember and what might be good for the service.

My Gram was a hip old bird. I was the only high school senior who didn't have a boyfriend, but who's 82 year old grandma had two. She liked to play the field. :) She always was ahead of her time, though. When she and my grandpa got married, it was illegal to be a female teacher and be married, so they lived apart for several years, pretending she was still single. I think it was only her pregnancy with my father that blew their cover.

Grandma was never happier than when she was with her family. As long as I can remember we had Sunday dinners at her house. She would slave all day long cooking for us and would refuse to let anyone else help her. We kids would play in her living room, lining up the footstools and jumping from one to the other until it was time to eat. Then we'd eat and chat, the adults talking about the events of the past week and reminiscing and us kids fighting over the black olives, putting them on our fingers and pretending to have black witch's nails.

I remember when I was little Gram would read to me on the old green couch in her living room. We'd read certain literary masterpieces over and over again like "Stand Back," Said the Elephant "I'm Going to Sneeze." And at one point we had a children's song book and I would make her sing "Skip to My Lou" over and over as I danced around her living room. And she never once complained, though the monotony must have driven her insane.

She was the picture perfect grandma. She always had some kind of treat around, even if it was just some frosting leftover from a cake spread between two saltine crackers. Every morning before school my sister and I would go to Gram's house for Cocoa Puffs and Mr. Gadget. After school it was Channel One and MathNet and playing outside while she worked in her garden. Wednesday nights were my parents' bowling nights, and we'd go to Grandma's, eat dinner with Uncle Niel, Aunt Cec and Gram, and watch Perfect Strangers on TV. I literally cannot remember one day of my childhood without Gram.

I remember one summer my dad was remodeling Gram's bathroom, Grandma wasn't home and Dad got some wild idea to smash out two walls and make Gram's front entry way lead into the family room as well as the living room. He handed me a hammer and said "Hey, go smash out that wall, will ya?" I guess I must have looked at him like he was insane, because he said "She's not gonna kill YOU." So I knocked it down and when Gram came home, she just looked at it for a minute and then went on to tell us all about the ADK meeting she had just been to. It was like she expected nothing less after raising three boys than to come home to find her house in a shambles.

She was SO generous, too, not just with her time, but with her money as well. She would go on vacation for a month or two and "hire" me as the dog sitter. This basically amounted to me hanging out at her house, free to munch on the treats she would leave, watch TV, having sleepovers with my friends, and play with TK, her dog, letting her out every now and again. Gram would get home and pay me for what "work" I had done. Later, after high school, I would do her nails and when her checks were WAY more than any salon would have charged her, I was informed that it was her money to do with as she pleased.

She was always a quiet and calm spot in our lives. I remember one family trip to Disneyland when we got lost driving around and spent the next hour making each other crazy. Eventually we got to laughing about our respective roles in the car: Beth was the Frazzled Driver, Dad was the Questionable Navigator, Mom was the Backseat Driver, Connie was the Whiner, I was the Grump, Dustin was the Instigator, and Grandma was Switzerland, just watching patiently out the window, happy and enjoying the ride.


Gram was a short woman, so once we started growing, it was fun to stand next to her and tease her about how much taller we were and ask her if she was shrinking. She'd usually feign a disgusted look and poke us in the ribs.


Gram was a crazy driver. I can remember seeing someone run the stop sign at the fork in the road and hearing my mom go nuts saying "Who's the maniac! They should have their license revoked!" and then Gram would pass us and we'd all sit there in awe that my grandma was the maniac. I remember a few times when she'd go the wrong way down a one way road, or start to drive down the wrong side of a split highway. So when I turned 16 and got my licence, Gram would have me drive her around to places she needed to go. I loved it because I could drive with an adult who wouldn't back seat drive and even if she did, I was confident that I was still the better driver in the car.

1 comment:

Grammy said...

Sorry for your loss. You have some wonderful memories of your Gram. Have you finished your house yet?