Grandma and me.
My grandma is a very special lady. A hard-worker and fiercely independent, she held down a job until she was 85 years old (which, incidentally, was this year)—she had been a waitress for over 50 years, and when she could no longer handle the physical strain of the restaurant business, she decided to become a cashier at a local drug store. She loves people, so providing good customer service came easy to her—and she swears that my waitressing prowess came from sharing genes with her. I’m inclined to agree.
We have a very special bond, my grandma and I. While my family lived on Long Island, she took care of me when my mom and dad were away. She spoiled me rotten (to this day, she keeps junky, sugary cereal in the cupboard for me, since my mom would never let me have it), but she could also be a strict disciplinarian. One day, we were strolling around the pond in Heckscher Park and she told me not to get too close to the water while I was feeding the ducks. I decided to be a disobedient child and test her authority, and sure enough, I got a scolding and a spanking. Later, I tugged on my grandmother’s shirt and said tearfully, “Gramma, I’m sowwy I was bad today at the park.” No matter how naughty I was, she couldn’t stay mad at me for long.
I have so many memories wrapped around my grandmother and her house and the town that has been her home for so long. I remember going “belly-whopping” down her hilly, snowy street while my sister was being born (in the same hospital where my dad and I greeted the world). I remember learning to sing “You Are My Sunshine” with Joe, the short-order cook at the Swensen’s where she worked after the Hamburger Choo Choo burned down (he called me “Little Mama,” a nickname that still makes me grin). I remember getting Carvel soft-serve when I had been a good girl. I remember marveling at the simple beauty of grandma’s house all decorated for Christmas (I liked to play with the tiny, delicate, ceramic angels). I remember going to the local apple orchard in the fall for sweet, homemade cider. I remember the smell of grandma’s kitchen while she made baked clams, home fries, potato salad, clam chowder, fried shrimp, and other family favorites. More than anything, I remember the love that has been bursting through the seams of that rickety old house for decades, no matter what the occasion.
Over the weekend, I’ll get to spend time with my dad (he’s coming up from Atlanta) and visit my grandfather’s grave (which I haven’t done since his funeral last November). I may get to see my uncle, and I’ll enjoy a couple of great meals. But what I’m looking forward to most is seeing my beloved grandma and making her smile, as she has done for me my entire life.
Have a great weekend, everyone!