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Friday, February 12, 2010


My Grammie's birthday was yesterday. I meant to post this yesterday, but I got busy and distracted - and well, to be honest, I really had to think about what I should write.  She has been an influence on my life like no other and there isn't a day that I don't think about her.  She passed away unexpectedly shortly before my first wedding anniversary.  It was probably the most painful experience of my life so far.   Grammie was a lovely and classy lady.  She was raised in a different time and was the quintessential homemaker.  Although I've never watched the show, the images of January Jones as the housewife in Mad Men make me think of her.  The black and white photos we have of Grammie from the 50's and 60's are her dressed impeccably, posing with her children or her friends.  She wore the beautiful housedresses, pedal pushers and keds, etc., just like all the images of the women of those days.  I think the only time she ever dressed down was pool side.  Typically, every Friday, she would wash her hair in the morning, then she would set her hair in pink foam rollers and sit in the sun and let her hair dry.  As long as I can remember, this was her summer ritual.  I can still see her sitting back in one of the white patio chairs, feet propped up on a second chair, wearing a coral or yellow, or royal blue simple spaghetti strap tank suit, her hair in pink rollers, reading glasses on and a Harlequin Romance in her hands.  When we would get to the pool, she would dip her chin down, her eyebrows would raise and her big blue eyes peek out over her glasses.
  "Well, hello, Angel!"  she would exclaim - as if she hadn't just seen us the day before and like we didn't live 300 yards from her.  She was always happy to see us and she never cared that we just popped into her house whenever we felt like it.  

Grammie and Papa were very much in love, but they also had their ups and downs.   But they always forgave each other and got back to life how they liked it.  My most vivid memories of being with my grandparents are summer time memories or our vacations to Florida.  No doubt because I had nothing else going on in my life at those times and it is when I was with them most.   My Papa has his own business, and I remember going into the house at 11 each morning to get Papa's lunch ready. Papa has always had a garden and at night, after supper (promptly on the table at 5:30) he would go out to the garden and tend to it.  He would bring in fresh lettuce and if in season, tomatoes and other vegetables for a salad.  Grammie would use those ingredients to make a BIG salad for him the next day.  Usually topped with some Bacos - do they still make those? and slices of hard boiled egg and tomato.  He always ate a sweet and sour dressing that my Grammie bought from a local restaurant - The Dutch Pantry - or he would just use oil and vinegar dictated by his Italian roots.   They were very happy together and had a complicated and easy relationship.  They were the perfect compliment to each other.  He always said something along the lines of "No one else on the earth could compare. . .  unless Sophia Loren showed up at my door - then I might have some choices to make."

This photo is of me with them at their 25th Wedding Anniversary Party.  I was pretty young here - maybe going on four, and I don't remember much about the party.  I just remember that anytime we went to the Country Club with them (or any restaurant for that matter) Shirley Temples were at our fingertips within seconds.  I'm pretty sure that Shirley Temples were on the menu for that special day as well.

I know that a lot of my memories are tainted by the rose colored glasses that grandchildren typically have in regards to their grandparents.  I know that she had flaws and made mistakes, but there is so much about my Grammie that I remember and hope to emulate.  Her husband and family always came first.  She loved us all fiercely and wanted only the best for all of us.  She may not have always gone about it in the best way, but her heart was in the right place.  

To me, Grammie was soft pink kisses that stained your cheeks, a whiff of Chantilly Lace perfume, Harlequin Romance novels and stacks of VHS recordings of soap operas.  She was a lover of everything shiney and sparkely, diamonds, real or fake, big clip on earrings, a collection purses and shoes that required their own zipcode, but most importantly, she was LOVE.  She was our protector and encourager, a lady that went after what she wanted and taught us to never settle.  

Most importantly, no matter who was around, how busy she was, or what the circumstance, she made me feel like I was the most important thing to her because I was her First Angel Baby.

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