Friday, November 26, 2010

My Mother's Mother

As the second of thirteen grandchildren, I was blessed with time. My mother was the oldest of six and her youngest sibling was an uncle at ten. I remember my grandmother when her family was still young and most still living at home. I was blessed with witnessing my grandmother in her youth and spent many years with a woman who died well before her time. Shortly after she held her last grandchild for the first time, she became an eternal story.

For some reason, I cannot separate the ideals of the 1950s and my impressions and memories of Grandma. She was a lady. She was always dressed well. Even in a jogging suit, she looked so put together. She had her hair set by the salon and slept in hair nets to keep it in place. Her hair was usually a deep red to brown, her eyes were green. It was short, but wavy. Her make-up was always done. Her nails were usually manicured. She wore pearl nail polish. She was conservative in dress... a silk shirt, slacks, nice shoes and plenty of gold jewelery. She was fit and conscious of her figure. She always smelled nice and her skin was always soft. She prided herself on how young she looked and when we walked to church, she would joke that people thought she was my mother not my grandmother. She was gentle and not. She was a great cook and doting wife. Quite sassy and opinionated. She would quickly tell me if my shirt was not of her taste, but she loved me. We made cookies every Christmas and we had matching aprons. I remember pressing Hershey kisses in cookies, red and green sprinkles, but especially the anisette cookies she made. Even after she passed, we all had lots of cookies for months.

I lived in the same town as her until about high school and across the street until I was five. We ate dinner at her house every Sunday. In the Summer, the menu included fresh crabs, swims in the pool and making flower necklaces with the white flowers from the grass. Her sister lived in the house behind hers. We knew every one on the block. The town was mostly Italian and you would have never guessed that my grandmother was born a Dutch Protestant, not a literal Roman Catholic. Her house was always immaculate. The carpets always soft and clean. Everything was blue except the basement that was red. She had statues of elephants, I often wondered if it was due to her own liking of elephants or the fact that my grandfather was a Republican councilman. When she would babysit me, she would give me special treatments. She would bathe me, rub either Nivea or special perfumed lotion on me, wrap my hair in a towel, hug me and later, tuck me in. Sometimes, I was tucked in between my Uncle Dean and my brother... I didn't know how lucky I was.

I can still hear her laugh. She loved life. Her laugh was infectious, her smile constant. It was a little like a cackle, but it was hers and it made me smile. It has been so long since I have seen her, but when I close my eyes, I can feel her there. The Christmas before she fell ill, I was twenty years old. I was talking to her about marriage and kids and life. She turned to me and told me that when I met the man for me that I would know. She had told me years ago that she knew my father was the one for my mother. I believe her to be right or maybe, she trained me to be a hopeless romantic. She loved my grandfather. This Thanksgiving my cousin reminded me how thankful I am to have these memories and so much more. I just figured I would share my images of her.


  1. thank you for these beautiful images of my MOTHER

  2. Michelle,
    What wonderful memories you've shared of your grandma, my Aunt Sue. You brought me back in time ... to some days of innocence on Central Ave. I have this picture in my head of Aunt Sue slicing watermelon over the sink in the kitchen, and calling us in from swimming for a snack. Those days with Dean, Rico, & family stand out among my fondest childhood memories. Thanks so much for this walk down memory lane. You're a beautiful writer.

  3. Listening to my "baby" cousins, I realized their thoughts of Gram were based mostly on pictures and stories. I know their parents had told them her story from their perspective, but I could share my perspective as her granddaughter.

    I had the privilege of eulogizing my Father's mother when she passed. I guess this was my way of doing the same for Grandma "Sue". Writing this made me realize, yet again, the immense loss I felt when I had to say goodbye. Not just because of her role in my life, but because of everything that was uniquely her.