This morning, the phone rang at 7:20 a.m. on the nose. That's never good. Most people don't call at that hour of the day unless there's something pressing to share. I must admit that when the phone rings at those odd hours of the day, I immediately think about my grandmother. This morning, the news was about my sweet old grandmother. She had fallen again - one of many times in the last several weeks - and was extremely disoriented and confused. Her doctor wanted to admit her to see if he could figure out exactly what's going on.
She hasn't passed away, but she's already gone. Maybe that sounds weird, but she's just not the same as she was - as my grandmother was. My maternal grandmother, named Mattie Olivia, has been such a central part of my life from day one. Of course the closeness to your mother's mother is always a little different. So I wanted to take some time today and just remember her... who she was and still is inside and still tries her hardest to be in her 90 year old frame.
Nail polish. My grandmother was nail polish. Always polished. Always. As a little girl, I can remember watching as she polished those beautiful nails. Her nails were quite different from mine. Mine just grow straight out, but hers gracefully curved and grew beautifully. She kept them painted in the most delicate and muted shades - mauve, peaches, light pinks. And she'd paint mine sometimes, too, or let me do my own painting.
Double Mint Gum. To this day, if I smell it, I think of her and her pocketbook. She always had gum in her pocketbook. If I couldn't find any there, she'd instruct me to look in her dresser drawer, and I'd successfully find the multi-pack she kept tucked away there. Sometimes there'd be Juicy Fruit - even better to me! And she'd let me chew as much as I wanted. And typically, I'd chew a piece for a minute until the freshness of the flavor and the powder of the sugar were gone, and I would reach for another. No telling how many packs of her gum I chewed over the years. And if she minded, it never showed.
Pins. I'm talking about straight pins, people. You know, the sharp ended little things that most modern women don't know how to use. Well, my grandmother was an exceptional seamstress back in her day. One thing was for sure - you never wanted to walk barefoot in my grandmother's house. Have you ever stepped on a straight pin? Well I have, and it's not pleasant at all. There were pins everywhere - on the floor, in between the cushions of the couch, even in the arms of her chair (she'd use it as a makeshift pin cushion - who needs the real deal when you have the arm of your chair to use?). But I can't remember the last time I found a pin in her house...
Spaghetti with mushrooms, homemade barbecue sauce, and cornbread dressing. These were the flavors of my childhood. Her spaghetti amazed me (and not in a good way). It had mushrooms in it. I can remember as a child eating Sunday lunch at her house and picking those mushrooms out of my spaghetti one by one and wondering if my grandmother was crazy or what to put such things in her spaghetti. In my little world - aka mom and dad's house - we didn't have weird things in our spaghetti. Just tomato paste and a little seasoning - and not too much, as my father didn't care for anything too seasoned. It wasn't until adulthood that I realized a ton of people other than my grandmother appreciated mushrooms in their sauce. She also made the most amazing homemade barbecue sauce you can imagine - I'd eat more chicken just so I sop it up in that sauce. And the cornbread dressing - never dry, always right on with the perfect amount of flavor, with the chopped up onion and celery. Of course, she always made two pans - one with onion and celery and one without for my dad and any other picky eaters. But that's just how she was and still is. She just wanted everyone to enjoy the meal.
Shopping. Usually on Saturdays, my mom and I would head over to visit my grandmother. Most weekends, we'd head out to do a little shopping, whether at the mall or Hancock's to look at fabric and patterns. We'd comb through pattern books, find just the right one, pick out the fabric and notions she needed, and return to her kitchen table to cut out the pattern. Or we'd head to the mall, traipsing through Gayfer's or Pizitz, looking at the clothes, shoes and housewares. Each Summer, she'd put some Fall things on layaway for me for the school year.
Kindness. Goodness. Grace. She was and still is all those things. If I can only be half the grandmother she has been to me... well, I'd be pleased. How I long for her to be restored to her fullness in heaven where one day we can paint our fingernails together again. Or cut out a pattern for the most magnificent robe...