My grandma’s birthday is February 12th. If she was alive, she’d be 97. Every year, I honor her birthday by doing something that she enjoyed when she was alive. One year, I had a girl’s night where we socialized, did our nails and drank all sorts of delightful beverages. I have fond memories of popping into her home unannounced and sitting beside her while she filed her enviable fingernails, strong and long. She kept them groomed despite her daily gardening (a discipline I have yet to adopt). Other years, I’ve bought a plant, created a poem, reread the eulogy I spoke at her funeral, or spent several leisurely hours reading because she loved it.
I honored her yesterday by choosing two things. First of all, we went to an Eric Carle inspired theater production with my two children from Mermaid theater company from Canada. She would’ve been thrilled to go. She was an elementary school teacher who loved reading and theater. We lived in a small town with occasional productions but where she viewed the most theater was on PBS. When I had moved to the city, she would often welcome me home by saying, “Now sit right down here and tell me about everything you are doing or have seen. You have so many opportunities and I’ve just got to hear about them.” The other thing I did was buy tickets to a tea for two so Eden and I could have a special outing together doing something she absolutely loved — tea. She had stacks of tea cups, some from her grandmother and mother. There were also special ones like the yellow rose cup from my grandpa who was the love of her life. Before she died I wrote down the teacup’s stories so I could pass them down to Eden with their stories intact. She was known as the “tea lady” at church who would generously cart all her cups, plates, and teapots so everyone could enjoy “the real thing.”
There are so many things I love to remember about her. My grandma was one of those pioneer women who graduated with her masters before many women even had their bachelors. She wasn’t afraid to share her opinions and had a confidence that wasn’t tainted by arrogance. She was a strong woman role model for me and I think I wasn’t afraid to speak up due to watching her interact with other adults, especially men. (Then again, maybe it was survival on my part having three brothers to compete with.) I also love that she knew what she liked and she wasn’t afraid to go against the culture by doing things like wearing orange when neutrals were fashionable. She was also extremely glitzy, something I pride myself in as I do love my accessories.
Probably most significant, she spoke into my life. She told me what gifts she saw in me. She spoke about how proud she was of me. She helped fund a bit of my graduate school. She taught me how to croquet beautiful table cloths though I’ve only made a small one fit for an end table. I miss her, especially on special days like yesterday when I would at least hear her voice every year we were alive together.
Who has influenced you? How do you remember her or him?