On Mother’s Day, I always think of my mom–gone almost twenty years now–and all the mother figures which were a part of my life. This Mother’s Day, however, my mind goes back to memories of my grandmother. Maybe because now I’m a grandma. When I stitch the pieces of my memory of my grandma back together, I craft a bright and sparkly quilt with strong seams. I can describe my grandmother in one word—classy. She dressed fashionably and smelled of a Chanel No. 5. Jewelry almost always glittered somewhere on her person. She looked good in a hat, and her slacks always had a center crease.
I can see her apartment with her gold Lazyboy, dresser-sized TV, and interesting decor. A large wooden fork and spoon hung on the wall by the oval dining table. In the middle of the table, on a large doily sat a leaded crystal pitcher (which I have now) with swirls of colorful feathers fanning out. I recall how the couch pattern ridged out in spots like tufted velour when I ran my hand over it. The fake grass sod covering her door stoop pricked my feet, while the interior shag carpet tickled my toes.
A particular fragrance met me when I stepped into Grandma’s, a mix of fresh laundry, baby powder, and rose. Grandma had once worked as a laundress at a fancy hotel. Doing laundry with her opened my eyes to a whole new world; she ironed her sheets. Maybe that’s why they always felt so comfortable. No bothersome wrinkles bunched up underneath my skin,
As a girl, I spent quite a bit of time with my grandmother, especially in the summer. Sometimes I would stay overnight. She complained of how I kicked in my sleep and eventually barricaded her side of the bed with pillows to protect herself from my nightly onslaught. Breakfast often consisted of toast with orange marmalade, cantaloupe, and cottage cheese.
For a while Grandma adopted me as her traveling companion. We took bus tours and boat tours. A few times she drove us to places, which weren’t too far away. I always had a fantastic time with Grandma, and I still have a few souvenirs of our excursions.
Grandma fed the birds and grew flowers, read poetry and The Enquirer, kept a tidy home, and was fastidious about her appearance. She made fancy candy like divinity and canned jelly with wax on the top.
Grandma gave me many little gifts in my girlhood days. The hand-stitched Barbie doll clothes were the best. She even made some tiny crocheted hats to adorn their heads. I frequently chose to dress Barbie in one particular red satin dress with tiny white stars. I wish I’d kept that doll dress, but it got passed down to my nieces years ago, I think.
Grandma left me with many saying, but my favorite I’ve held on to is: “If you feel bad, dress up. It’ll make you feel better.” I have a lot of not so good days living with MS. When I feel crappy, I don’t sit around in my pajamas. I take a shower, get dressed, fix my hair, put my makeup on, and select my jewelry. It works. I do feel a little better, at least a little brighter when I’m careful about my appearance.
Grandma became a widow in her fifties, beat breast cancer, and recovered from a major stroke. She was a classy, no nonsense woman. I wish I could tell her thank you for all the ways in which she influenced my life. I miss her. I hope someday my grandchildren will remember me as fondly. I will strive to forge special times with them. I wonder what one word they might use to describe me when I’m gone?