Friday, October 10, 2008

Gram

When I was a kid - maybe 8 or 9 years old, Gram and I used to drink tea together. It may have only been a few times, but I remember boiling up the water and putting some bread in the toaster. One night, sitting in her kitchen, one of the roller shades just flew open, as roller shades were prone to do back then, and scared the you-know-what out of us! After a few seconds, we both broke into laughter, humored by the silliness of the moment.

Gram took us all in after my folks separated. I think back to the small upstairs house that was no bigger than most of the apartments I've lived in as an adult, and understand what it must have been like for Gram - taking in family. As big a pain in the butt it is, that's what family does. I even had my own room. It barely could take a bed in it, but it had a closet and a window and it was mine.

I remember her perfect yard. The barn converted to a garage, with places that were off limits, making them even creepier to a young kid. My great-grandfather's black caddie always covered in blankets, only occasionally being driven into town and then quickly tucked away and re-covered. I even drove in that car once or twice, I think.

Her basement was full of hidden treasures for a kid. It flooded nearly every year - and for kids, floods are cool. I climbed the trees in her yard. I got in fights there. Went to summer camp in the park down the street. Got into loads of trouble. All while living there with Gram.

Gram never remarried, and was single for as long as I can remember. She smoked like the day is long, and I constantly harassed her for it. I worked, for a very short time, at a pharmacy in town (Stanton's Drugs - the things you all of a sudden remember...), and in came Gram while I was behind the counter. She was pretty upset with me for not selling her cigarettes that day - as was the manager. I lost that job not too long after that incident. 20years later, she quit smoking....but she often reminded me of that day.

She sold that great house while I was in College and moved to a retirement area near the Jersey Shore. A much smaller place with no yard that she could manage by herself. One day a buddy of mine, Eric and I, plus two passengers (one of which was my sister, Leslie), visited Gram on our two new motorcycles. Oh what a day that was. They still speak of the day those two loud motorcycles came roaring up the road to visit Madeline. Towards the end, Gram didn't remember much, but she reminded me of that day.

Edit: I thought up some more stuff today. Her favorite cocktail was the Manhattan. I'll never forget - gosh, it was yesterday, my Uncle Mel (her brother) and me sneaking her Manhattans to my Mom's chagrin. Being born in the Netherlands, Gram would really turn on the Dutch when she was mad. Good thing we couldn't understand her! She used to sing to us in Dutch as well. That was much more pleasant. Dust pan and broom - that's the "Faagud and Blinky" - at least, according to Gram.

As I hasten to put some memories to paper, it's alarming that there's not more. When I got the news that she had passed, it had come as no surprise. Her health had been failing for quite some time, and the last time we visited her I was pretty sure it would be the last time I'd see her. I'm thankful now for that last visit, hopeful that she recognized and remembered being surrounded by loved ones on that beautiful summer day.

25 comments:

Wendy said...

This is a lovely remembrance, Bigun.

The Tri Runner said...

sorry for you loss

J-Wim said...

What a touching tribute to Gram. Sounds like you all had a special relationship.

Spokane Al said...

Very nice memories. I am sure they help a bit in this time of your loss.

Jenny Davidson said...

I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your memories.

Jumper 2.0 said...

I always enjoy reading about the important things/times/people in life. Our condolences but also joy (for lack of a better word) for the life you had together.

SWTrigal said...

So sorry for your loss Bigun..sounds like you have such great memories of your Gram. Peace to all of you..

21stCenturyMom said...

So sorry to hear about your Gram, Big Un. I almost didn't want to finish your lovely story because I was pretty sure I knew the ending. Your memories remind me so much of my grandmothers with their big houses full of treasures.

Sounds like your Gram lived a long life full of love, though and that's good.

Tea said...

That was a great tribute filled with incredible memories. Thanks for sharing it and remding me of my own childhood memories at nana's house.

Brent Buckner said...

Nice tribute and memories; thanks for sharing. Condolences on your loss.

kt said...

That is a wonderful picture of you two. She sounds like she was a wonderful woman and that she really did know how much you loved her.

That was a beautifully written tribute.

ShirleyPerly said...

Sorry for your loss. But great memories and glad you were able to see her that one last time before she passed.

Comm's said...

personal message to follow.

CoachLiz said...

Bigun,

Thank you for sharing your Gram with us. My deepest sympathy for your loss. Your Gram sounds like she was a wonderful woman with such a big heart.

JohnnyTri said...

you have some great memories with Gram! thanks for sharing. sorry to hear this.

rockon`

Green Eyed Lady (aka GEL) said...

Sorry to hear about your grandmother, Marc. Grandmothers are very special and I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with mine, too...L

Green Eyed Lady (aka GEL) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tiggs said...

Hey Bigun, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. My Gran and I were really tight too-- she passed away 2 Augusts ago literally an hour after I left her room. I knew when I left it would be the last time I'd see her, but it killed me all the same. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her and I am constantly telling my husband stories of growing up with Gran. Treasure those memories and just know that she is in a better place still watching over you :)

Iron Eric said...

I am glad that you have so many good memories!

Duckboy said...

Been there.

Thanks for writing down your memories and, in turn, making me remember a few of my own.

Here's to many more recollections of good times with those gone.

db

Duane said...

Sorry for your loss. Glad you have so many great memories!

Curly Su said...

really nice tribute. thanks for sharing.

momo said...

hey, big guy. i'm so sorry to hear of your gram's passing. big j and i are sending you big hugs.

big j's dad loved manhattan's too. whenever we'd go out to eat - he'd order a "perfect manhattan" whatever that means! one of these days i'm going to order one and drink in his and your gram's honor.

IronJenny said...

Great memories those are.

Fe-lady said...

You were a lucky guy to have had "Gram" in your life, and she was lucky to have you as a grandson. Rest in peace Gram.