Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good times, bad times -- sometimes the same times

I finished my book last week and mailed it off to my editor. I crawled out from my hole, looked around and had a good cry at the amount of work to be done. The house was a mess. I needed a shovel just to find my office floor. The cupboards were bare. And Christmas? Oh, dear dog, I had soooo much to do to be ready for Christmas. So, good control freak that I am, I pushed the crap off my desk and made a list of everything that needed to be done.

It was a long list.

Three hours post book, I was starting to make some headway, and I was feeling good that I’d get everything done – maybe not with time to spare (and maybe not to the extent perfectionists might like), but I’d get it done.

Then my mom called with the news my grandmother had passed away.

So much for my list. So much for those plans.

Let me tell you a story about my grandmother. My grandfather died when I was six. When I was 22 and DG and I had to run off to the courthouse to satisfy INS and get him a Green Card, my grandmother wanted to know what we were doing for wedding rings. We didn’t have any money, so rings weren’t even on our minds – we were spending what little money we did have filing DG’s immigration paperwork. My grandmother offered us wedding bands – hers and my grandfather’s. She said they came with a 50-year Happily-Ever-After guarantee. She was really neat like that.

I don’t want to depress anyone right before Christmas with sad stories, and while I wish I could come up with something else to blog about, my brain just isn’t working in that direction right now. I also know I’m not the only person in the world who’s going into the holiday missing someone I love. We all cope and deal in our own way, and this blog helps me with the healing.

So, in honor of my grandmother, I’m opening up the comment tail for you to tell me a story about one of your grandparents. It can be sweet, sad, funny– whatever you’d like to share. Grandparents are cool, and as I miss mine, I’d like to hear about yours.



Playground Monitor said...

My maternal grandmother always had a crochet hook in her hands. She would take squares of flannel material and crochet an edging around them to make baby blankets. All the babies in the family and her neighborhood got one and the extras were sold to earn her a little mad money. She would also take old Christmas cards, cut them into a certain shape and crochet them together to create a Christmas basket.

My grandma died in 1976 after a long, painful battle with cancer. She was 71 years old. Some years later my grandfather remarried and moved to another state. When my mom cleaned out the house, she found some of the baby blankets and distributed them amongst the family. I got two – one white and one with pink flowers. My boys were already grown so I just stored them away with the baby things I’d kept.

Two years ago when I went to my daughter-in-law’s baby shower, I took her a box of things that had belonged to my son – a sweater knit by my husband’s aunt who lived to be 105 years old, a t-shirt from Frankfurt, Germany where #1 son was born, some bright red booties that came from Italy. I also gave her that pink floral blanket since we knew the baby was a girl. I included a little note that explained each item and wrote that I hoped they’d add to the creation of memories for their new family just like they had done for ours. And I told how the blanket had been waiting for at least 30 years for a baby girl to be born into the family so it could be used.

I have lots of memories of my grandma (though we never called her that but instead called her by her first name, Elnora). She was never able to give us much materially, but I learned from her how to shuck corn, shell peas and string beans because she and my grandpa always had a big garden behind their house. I learned that the good things you do for others will come back to you ten-fold. One thing I didn’t learn, however, was how to crochet.

I was so sorry to hear about your grandmother. She sounds like the kind of person you’d want to know. I’m sure she was proud of you and your writing career.

PM's Mother said...

My condolences on the death of your grandmother. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

I was a lucky child. On my mother's side of the family I was blessed with a grandmother and two great-grandmothers. I was named for all of them. Needless to day that as the first born grandchild I was a little spoiled.

We lived 125 miles away from my maternal grandmother and only visited on holidays. After I was six or seven years old I was allowed to visit her for two weeks each summer.

These summer vacations always coincided with Bible school at Grandma's church. My cousin Joy also visited her at the same time and we attended Bible School together. I remember sitting under the large pecan tree in Grandma's yard and while Grandma shelled butter beans or peas Joy and I sat at her knee and learned the Ten Commandments or whatever Bible verses were our "homework."

Speaking of butter beans, when my cousin and I were old enough to attend the movies alone, Grandmas would let us go to her garden and pick butter beans, shell them and sell them to her neighbors for enough money to pay our way into the movies and buy a box of popcorn and a coke. (This was twenty-five cents for a quart of beans.)

Many years later my daughters were exposed to her wisdom and kindness. When she died at age age 74 my youngest daughter gave her the best epitaph that any grandmother could have--"She was a good granny."

MaryF said...

HUGS on the loss of your grandmother. My grandmother was one of my best friends. I lost her in 2004 and I still think about her every day. This time of the year, the memories come fast and furious. She LOVED Christmas. She didn't weigh 100 pounds but was one of the strongest people I've ever known. She could be unbending, but she was loyal to family, and she loved her kids and grandkids and great grandkid. She read every word I ever wrote. It feels weird to know now I have books she never looked at.

Christine said...

I am very sorry about your loss. Hugs!

We had my husband's Grandma... a solid little lady from Texas who loved her children, grandchildren and great children with loyalty and joy.

Every year, she'd send us a package of hand shelled pecans from her garden, the cutest little towels with crocheted tops to button them onto the stove handle, and a sweet note telling us how much she loved us. I remember when we didn't have much, we would send her a check for $25 and she'd write us a thank you note that made us feel like we had sent a million instead. Just a sweet lady.

I learned from her that everyday you can have an adventure and that you should be prepared for it with clothes and make up on even if nothin is planned.

She learned how to drive in her 60s, was president of her AARP chapter, and was part of a Denny's breakfast club where three to four ladies would dress in tropical shirts and head to Denny's for breakfast once a week (this was before red hat ladies were around).

She died when she was in her 80s on Good Friday ten years ago. We still miss her!

Smarty Pants said...

Grandparent stories. I'm only in contact with half my family, but my great grandparents were/are alive for quite a while. I knew them all pretty well. I was the only grandbaby until Little Sister came around, so the spotlight was on me for 24 years.

My great grandpa was my buddy when I was little. We lived with them until I was 10. He let me do terrible things to him like put curlers in his hair and makeup on his face. He had a crazy life. Left home and joined the circus when he was 11 (for real). Got a hobo to pose as his father so he could fight underage in WWI. Fought in WWII. And Korea. Got his plane shot down over the Sea of Japan. After all that, he died of cancer when I was 7. Cigarettes were more deadly than the Japanese in the end.

My great grandma is still alive, just turned 96. Hard to think she outlived him by over 20 years. She's less than 5 ft tall, but a firecracker. She'd yell at my uncles (all 6'5+) and you'd think she was bigger than they were. She also had a thing for the gifts you could always order through the USPS. Everytime we'd visit, she'd drag out all this jewelry and have us pick something. "There are genuine fox pearls," she told me once. Took 20 minutes to explain they were "faux" pearls and that was french for fake. :)

My grandpa died in 2005. I never got to see much of him. He and my step-grandma would come visit us from time to time. He always reminded me of Perry Mason. He was a big Texas teddybear. A good ol boy with a soft spot a mile wide. That's why my fiesty step grandma had to follow him around and keep people from taking advantage of him. She'd go around with her fur coat and her pearl handled pistol collecting money people owed him. :)

And then there's my grandmother. Its hard to explain her. She's about as far from a grandma as you can get. I never saw her much either. She was always off doing missionary work. Cookies and snuggles, she wasn't. Still isn't, although she's probably better at it with LS than she was back in the day.

Playground Monitor said...

Fox pearls. That's priceless!

Rhonda Nelson said...

PC, so sorry to hear about your grandmother. :/

I used to spend so much time with my grandmother when I was little that store clerks called me her little shadow. She'd build me doll houses out of old shoe boxes, make me wigs out of panty hose and yarn because I desperately wanted long hair. :-) She'd let me sew on her sewing machine and play with her pinking shears. And her cinnamon toast was always the best.:-)

Smarty Pants said...

Yes, "Genuine Fox Pearls." She said it in this hushed whisper like she didn't want anyone else to hear what grand treasures she had stored away in her sock drawer. :)

Barbara Vey said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. As coincidences go, I blogged about my son's grandpa passing away today.

But my best friend was my grandma. She was always there for every and anyone. My favorite saying of her's was "Day old bakery has only 1/2 the calories." She would have been 99 on Valentine's Day.

My Writer's Attic said...

My grandfather was the sweetest man. I don't remember him ever raising his voice to all his 36 grandkids, let alone raising his hand to one. We didn't have much money, but once in a while he'd go to the store and buy those 6 pack's of candy bars (3 Musketeer's were his favorite) and he'd cut them up into tiny little bites so each of us could have part of it. I don't know why that sticks in my mind so clear, but there ya go.

Sherry Werth said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother PC. Hugs to you and your family.

I was much closer to my grandmother than I was to my parents and I still miss her after all these years. My fondest memories are of the snacks she always had ready for me and my brother when we got home from school. Our houses were next door to each other so going to Granny's was only a few steps away. She timed it so that whatever she made would be ready when we got off the school bus. Fried apple pies, brownies, cookies, etc.,. it was always something different everyday. She was a great cook and the woman never had to measure a darn thing!

Anonymous said...

May your grandmother rest in peace. I was fortunate to know all my grandparents who were so different in a good way. None are no longer with us but they did leave me with some great memories. Stay strong and don't let the little things stress you out.

Liza said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and all of your family.

I'm named after both of my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother is my only grandparent still living. We talk on the phone at least once a week(9:00am on Saturday), plus when anything happens with our football team(Go Titans!).

My Motmama(paternal grandmother) passed way in July 1994. She died 10 years to the day after my mom. She was so much fun to be around and the family joke is she always would only drink "half a beer". Of course she would have several glasses of her "half a beer"(she even offered to split one with me when I was in high school). She also always had Fresca in her house and being a Southern lady would always offer you a Fresca when you walked in the door.

My Pawpaw(maternal grandfather) died in June 1996. He gave me my love for sports. He always drove us to and from school when I was growing up and always had a Kit-kat and a quarter after school for us(it went up to $1.00 when it was time to buy band jackets). He also made the best milkshakes in the world.

Problem Child said...

Such wonderful stories, everyone! Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. This time of the year makes it particularly worse.

My maternal grandma was a love. She loved us so much and was a kind woman. She worked very hard as a single mother supporting her 3 kids. I always remember loving to go to her house and enjoy her terrific cooking. I even made homemade pasta with her.

Pat L.