I was thinking about my grandmother this morning. I miss her a lot. She would have been 101 in four days, but I lost her a few years back. 101. Wow.
When I was little, I went to Grandma's house almost every weekend. Sometimes she would cook soup and let me make my own "something" soup from the scrap bin (oh my parents loved the potato peel soup!). I was a bit... hyperactive, but Grandma tolerated it well. Well, sometimes she tolerated it with a wooden spoon on my behind, but she understood me.
I remember that she used to fill up 2 or 3 tubs with soapy water and carry them outside. Then she would move the picnic table under the clothesline and drape quilts over the lines to make a fort. Then the soapy tubs and I would sit on top of the picnic table and I washed dishes. For HOURS.
When I was loud and full of energy she sent me outside with a hammer and a box of nails. Her wooden fenceposts were full of nails from me. I wonder now how it must have looked, my 80 yr old grandmother at Ace Hardware in town, buying boxes of nails like she was hanging sheet rock in her house. HA!
She would stand over the stove and make me potato soup every single time I asked for it. While I played in the living room, she'd be cutting patterns and making clothes for my baby dolls (or me). She fussed and fiddled with those patterns, pins between her lips. Soon enough - and gosh, I must have only been about seven - I wanted to sew, too. She set me up with a needle and thread and some scraps of fabric. And then one day, while she was fussing (and I swear I remember her saying 'shit') at the kitchen table over a pattern and some fabric, I presented her with my stuffed elephant, dressed in a brand new pair of pants.
She took the pins out of her mouth. "How did you make these pants?" she asked me.
"I just... made them. I laid him down and traced around and then... made them." I hadn't used a pattern. I still don't use them most of the time. I'm an eyeballer. Ohhhh, Grandma was a bit irritated at that, but it tickled her just the same. So we sat and sewed together often.
She went to church with us every Sunday morning. I stood on the wooden pew between Grandma and my mom and we sang all the hymns. Once when I was 5 or 6 I asked Grandma why she sang so bad. (Oh yes, I did.) Another time, I told her she should shave her mustache before church. (Yep. Did.) I'm not sure how she tolerated me, I only know that she did. I was a wise-cracker... but she was, too. Maybe that's why she loved me so much.
I remember sleeping in her bed when I'd spend the night. She'd wrap up her hair in yellow toilet paper and a nightcap every night. The round clock at the bedside had green glow-in-the-dark numbers on it, and there were industrial thread spools on top of the cabinet in her bedroom. I used to stare at them as I fell asleep.
The last time I saw Grandma was at my family reunion in 2000. I was 23 and she was 91. My dad had died 3 years earlier. I was barely pregnant and couldn't wait to tell her. She was sitting at the dining room table at my Aunt Anna's house, wearing a beautiful day dress. I remember her delicate, but strong hands in her lap. She took one look at me from across the room and smiled. "You're pregnant," she said. My heart smiled.
I take after my grandmother a lot. She is definitely where I get a lot of my strength. Man oh man, do I ever miss her. Her and her Charlie perfume.
I also always thought she had the luckiest birthdate ever... 03 06 09. So cool.