Thursday, August 19, 2004

My Grandma Helen 

This is the most recent picture I have of my grandmother. I took it last thanksgiving. It's not the greatest - she blinked.

I still feel like it hasn't fully sunk in yet. This is the busy time, after a death. The time of phone calls and planning flights and such. You're so busy trying to figure out the how and when, because the why is too painful to think about.

So many memories to sift through.

Grandma Helen wasn't the greatest cook, but she knew where all the good bakeries were. They brought these apricot sandwich cookies from a bakery near them whenever they came in. mmmmmm

She would never sit down for more than 5 minutes at a time during a meal. she was always getting up to get something for my grandpa, or to take dishes in to the kitchen. Grandpa would yell at her "WILL YOU SIT DOWN???" "I'm just taking the salad bowls in, LEAVE ME ALONE!"

They yelled at each other like only people who had been in love for 60 years do. It was LOVE yelling, and it made the rest of us laugh.

Grandma loved playing cards. Her game was 500 rummy. She would let the discard pile get really big, and then take every card and put down 200 points worth of matches. She always creamed us. Grandpa would yell "YOU'RE CHEATING!" "NO I'M NOT! I just needed that jack!"

They would drive in christmas morning, usually in the middle of the gift opening orgy. Her pet peeve was wrapping paper on the floor. She would immediately find a garbage bag and pick up all the papers and ribbons, and then sit there until we were done. "give me your paper, I'll put it in the bag." Somewhere I have a picture of her still in her coat, sitting next to a huge overstuffed garbage bag full of paper.

Grandma would give us money like she was buying drugs. She'd fold up the bills real small, then come up like she was going to give us a hug,then press the folded money into our hands. "don't tell your mother"

She was Thrifty but Generous. She and grandpa live like paupers. Once they cancelled a seniors trip to vegas because it was going to cost them $350 instead of $310. After telling my mom this, they wrote her a check for several thousand dollars to help with college tuition for me and my brothers.

They would go to the grocery store for sales of things like "tuna, 3/$1, limit 6 per customer." She would go through and buy 6. Then grandpa would go buy 6. Later that day they would do it again. Their basement was full of tuna, jello, canned beans, and frozen donald duck orange juice. She would also brag about how cheaply she bought bananas. Every time they visited they brought us bananas and donald duck orange juice (which is the worst orange juice ever, but we drank it anyway!)

Mom would take all the clothes that we weren't wearing any more and take them to goodwill. Grandma insisted on going through the bags first, because, as she said "you throw away good stuff!" She would take the clothes home for her and grandpa. She was very handy with the sewing machine, so we were always surprised to see the reincarnation of an old christmas dress into a snappy blouse. Grandpa was not so lucky. Once when mom went to visit them, he was wearing one of her old turtlenecks. He didn't care, he wore whatever grandma told him to.

She had trouble remembering names, so any time she wanted to get your attention, she would go through her list of family names until she found the right one. "shirley...dorthy...jean...ESC!"

Grandma LOOOOOOOOVED flea markets and garage sales. She had no shame at striking a bargain. I would get so embarassed. There would be something for $10, and she would offer them a nickel for it, because "sometimes they say yes!" and she was right - sometimes.

Here's how my grandparents met: She was best friends with my grandfather's sister, Mary. She didn't like him very much, said he was moody and spoiled. She teased him. Then one day his mother got very sick, and he stayed by her bed and took care of her. Grandma saw that, her heart changed, and decided right then and there that she was going to marry him. poor grandpa didn't stand a chance.

Poor grandpa. I don't know what he's going to do. I don't think he can live by himself. Together, my grandparents made one functioning person: she cooked and told him what to wear, and he organized their medications like a pharmacist. I don't think he will last very long on his own.

Thanks for being so supportive, everyone. It's so weird...even though I don't know any of you, and I feel like I really DO know you? Aimee said that she often goes to call one of us, only to remember that she doesn't actually know us! I feel like that, too. You have all been so great to me, and you don't know me, either! hehe...you know too much ABOUT me, but...you know what I mean.

So thanks for all your kind comments and words. I'll be around a little while longer, I'm leaving saturday for scranton, and I'll be back tuesday. So I'll be hanging around in the back of your comments sections, trying to be funny, as usual, for a little while longer at least. I just can't seem to stay away from blogland :)