Monday, April 2, 2012


She would serve me cranberry floats in cranberry glasses.

She’d make back yard forts out of white sheets and a clothes line.  
Hours of play interrupted only by an occasional low flying plane.

She had a real butter churn,
naughty three legged stools,
pineapple wallpaper,
and an enormous antique crock brimming with pennies.

She did not have a shower, but always kept a red bubble blowing pipe close at hand for bath time fun and a bottle of Jean Nate on the ledge of the tub for a quick after bath splash.

She bought me my very first pair of high heeled shoes and taught me how make valentines and pie crust.

She believed fresh cranberry sauce and sugar cookies were best made with half the sugar recipes call for.

She loved doilies, dried flowers, and her beloved Charles’ rose bushes.

She’d speak of Hixton. Meecham Street. and Fort Howard School.

She taught me the difference between vaseline, depression, and carnival glass

She was never fond of her middle name.

She’d serve winter vegetable salad, turkey cookies, and cold mashed potato salad.

She used to rub gentle circles into my arm until I’d feel woozy and sleepy and loved.

She tucked Cashmere Bouquet soap into her dresser drawers to give her home its signature scent.

Once we went to lunch on Wednesday only to have Billy Westby casually clue us in that it was actually Friday.  We’d been having so much fun that we’d totally lost track of time and our only dismay was feeling like our time together had been cut short.

Sitting on the edge of Grandpa’s brass bed, she’d walk me through her photo albums.
They were  filled with pictures of her with her four sisters swimming in a creek wearing suits made out of old sweaters.  She’d run her hand wistfully across photos of her late husband that looked shockingly like my brother and she would sift through photo after photo of her round and rosy cheeked only child.

Her daughter. 
Patricia Anna.
My mother.
From considerable beauty was born notable strength.  

The daughter my mother has been over the past several years has allowed me to preserve all of my beautiful memories of my grandma.  Because my mother had the strength to see my grandma through her darkest days my musings on this extraordinary woman are not clouded by the fact that she forgot, but a celebration of all the tiny little details I remember.  And for that I am forever grateful.

When my husband and I would visit my grandma she would usually unearth a can of Milwaukee’s Best beer from the back of her refrigerator for him.  Prior to Leif’s arrival, any beer in my grandma’s house had a singular purpose; to lure ghastly slugs from her garden, but grandma knew that in a pinch they could be used to wine and dine her grandson-in-law.  

And then she would pour herself and me a glass of Rhine wine.  Yep, Rhine wine from the big jug.  The three of us would retire to grandma’s patio, surrounded by the colorful flowers in her pristine gardens.  Leif would sip on his flat slug beer and my grandma and I would sip our wine.  Invariably she’d tap her glass and say, “Isn’t this most delicious wine?  Missy, isn’t this the best wine you’ve ever tasted?”

And I would always respond,
“Yes, Grandma this is the best wine because whenever I drink it I know I am with you.”

So let us savor the lasting memory of a life well lived.
Let us raise a glass of the most delicious wine 
and toast to the strength of a daughter and the beauty of her mother.

To my friend,
my grandma Dorothy, 
May she always live in a garden.
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