i received a box in the mail this week containing the following items:
a garnet ringa yellow ball gown from the 70’s
a black lace dress from the 1900’s
a folder of photographs
an egg beater
i have been eying that egg beater since i was a freshman in college. it was my grandmother’s. i have been asking her to give it to me every visit i’ve made to her since 1997. she never did give it to me.
she had been sick for four years, so really it was a relief when i got the call from my mom earlier last week saying that granny had died. she had stomach cancer and had been home bound for the last year and a half. when i said in passing to my mister that i couldn’t believe she had made it 87 years this past november on her birthday, little atheist that he is responded without missing a beat, “yeah, well, God’s probably afraid to meet her face to face.” i burst out laughing, because hey, she was never a milk and cookies kind of grandma. sure she could bake the shit out a cookie, but she’d probably slap your hand for eating more than two.
she had a rough time of it growing up, taking care of a manic depressive mother and alcoholic father. she never did want to get married and have kids, she wanted to go to california and be an actress. as it turned out, she never even left cleveland, had three kids and never seemed quite satisfied with the way things had turned out for herself. as a result, she could be quite mean, with a grammatically correct tongue like a guillotine, and a hand that could dole out a slap before you realized why your back/butt/head/arm was stinging.
i have cousins who hadn’t spoken to her in years, but not me, i visited her every 3 months till i moved to california, then the visits rolled back to yearly, but i did call her every couple of weeks. i’ve always looked at it this way, yes, she could be mean, and she could really hurt your feelings, but, BUT, she was just as likely to do something nice. she always made me soup when i came over, even when she was in chemo, and even when she could barely walk from pain. she made me halloween costumes for years when i was little. [her dad was tailor] she made matching “mommy/baby” dressed for my mom and me. she made me barbie clothes. she always made sure that each grandkid had an equal amount of presents under the tree. she treasured my brother at a time in his life when he could have felt like a leftover. she got each grandkid a star wars mug that lived in her pantry and was trotted out for visits to grandma’s. she got me the anne of green gable box set from nova scotia even though she hated how much i read.
so i will think of the nice things and just count it as a miracle that was a nice as she was given how disappointing life was to her by times. and i’ll thank her husband of 26 years for letting me finally have the egg beater.