Fun Monday is here again and this week, Jo, who loves Chocolate and Other Things is hosting:
March 2nd is my Mom's birthday and was her mother's birthday as well. For this week's Fun Monday, tell me something fun about your mother and/or her mother. What fun, weird, laughable memories do you have of your Mom or your Grandma?
And I thought this would be easy... I already write about my Mom. She makes me laugh on a regular basis (the sponge story is typical!) so I decided to write about my mother's mother. She wasn't a particularly funny lady... Her sense of humor was very different from mine and I didn't always get what she thought was humorous and vice versa. But she knew about joy. Simple joy.
My grandmother was always there when I was growing up. But I never felt like I really knew her.
She was a rebel of her time - a divorced woman raising two children on her own and highly suspicious by society's standards. She had a job of some stature and was paid well enough to raise her kids, buy houses and cars and retire comfortably. She was a serious penny pincher who believed in getting value for what she spent. Sometimes, she spent on us, buying us shoes when things were tight (hello? 6 children in my family!!!!). She had an amazing eye for color and coordination and could put together the most beautiful outfits, which I appreciated - but shopping with her was sheer torture for me. She looked at every article of clothing, examining it for stains or loose threads or pulls. That careful, painstaking attitude was so characteristic of her. She was a perfectionist. And I don't feel like I really knew her at all until close to the end of her life. She was very tight-lipped about her life and undemonstrative in her emotions. I think that was a wall she built to keep out the doubts she had about herself and whether or not she was lovable.
But as she got close to 80 years old, there was a softening in her, an openness that wasn't there before. I would go visit her, clean her house, work in the yard with her. Freed of the need for stockings and heels, she spent her days in button-up shirts and capri pants. She didn't go to the hairdresser every week anymore and the loose curls that would blow in the wind suited her.
I remember going to her house one time... The door was unlocked but there was no answer when I called out for her. I searched the house and the yard, calling for her with no response. I was standing in the carport when she appeared out of the bushes in the back of the yard. Her hair was wild and there were grass stains on her pants and she was smiling from ear to ear. Her eyes lit up when she saw me and we went in for coke floats which she'd recently become addicted to. What on earth were you doing back there? I asked. She had picked up a bucket full of pine cones and had spent the last half hour chucking them as far as she could into the ravine that ran behind the house - and having a blast doing it.
That was the thing... finally free of having to make a living and be a proper lady all the time, she finally learned how to have fun. Just doing simple things, like chucking pine cones and making coke floats brought her great joy.
She died in August 2001, a month before the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. A sudden heart attack after a lovely evening out with my uncle and his wife. It was such a shock to us. But you know... it was the perfect death for her. No muss, no fuss after a perfect day.
It took me a long time to stop calling her. A long time for it to sink in that she would not be answering the phone again. And I still miss her. I feel like I was only just getting to know her. But you know? I think I already knew what was important. That she loved me and that she was happy.