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Monday, February 21, 2011

Gumdrops

I will forever remember the smell of her cigarette mixed with the aroma of her make up and perfume.  I’ll remember the many conversations we’d have outside on the porch will she’s tap her cigarette ashes into the top of an empty 7 Up can and then look over, give a sly smile and a wink.  I’ll always remember her seemingly infinite supply of Oreo cookie, gum drops, dum dums and peppermint candies.  She savored chicken bones (the candy) and regular trips to Seattle’s international district for dim sum where she and my grandfather met at a dance hall in the 1940s.    

As a self-declared beautician, taught me how to put make up for the first time.  She taught me the importance of nail care, facials, skin care and made me promise I’d never smoke (like she did for 65+ years) as it was a nasty habit (also true). My shopping-gene was surely a gift from her as we could shop for hours and only stop because the stores were closing.  She made the best banana cream and lemon meringue pie which I have still yet to master.

Sister and I spent a couple summers in Alaska where Grandma called home for 30+ years.  We painted birdhouses and watched for eagles. Like any good grandmother, she let us eat whatever we wanted including those delicious brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts that were banded from our house, but staple for breakfast at grandma’s house. Her toy poodles Nikki and Sassy kept her constant company and she always made sure Grandpa had his supply of Michelob and pistachios to last the Alaskan winters.

She also most kind and generous person will to give away whatever she owned.  She was concerned about the well-being of others and would go beyond expectation to serve those around her.

She was an infinite pool of wisdom and when you thought she was being serious, her crystal clear blue eyes would look right through you and she say, “Marry for money.” And with a wink and head nod, you knew she meant it. And you’d both laugh hysterically knowing she truly believed it but how ridiculous it sounded.  We’d joke and laugh. We were friends.  I’m pretty sure she’s the first person I ever heard swear, I can’t prove it but it seems about right.

She lived the life of seven feisty women. She was no saint but she was true and essence of survival and compassion.   She had a smoker’s voice and laugh and a mother of 5, wife to a few, friend and confidant to many.

Age wreaked havoc on her body.  Arthritis had turned her master seamstress hands into knobby crooked extensions of her body that made it very difficult to do the things she loves like crochet, sew and cook. She survived cancer, an array of broken bones, pancreatic issues.  She was a survivor of her time and station in life from being a seamstress as a way to feed her family to boutique owner to as a way to pass the time as ship captain’s wife.

The last time I saw my grandma in August of 2009 where she knew her mind was going but would still have moments of lucidity where my grandma who I knew and love was fully present. We’d sit next to each other, she’s hold my hand and share the gumdrop jar like it was as normal as breathing.  Whenever I saw her we’d joke how I was getting taller and she was getting shorter. We’d shower each other with compliments of who was more beautiful. 

In the last few years of her life when she thought her end was coming close, she used to joke that the Lord was just torturing her here as He wasn’t ready to have her Home yet.  That she wasn’t done cause trouble here on earth, or more accurately the Lord wasn’t ready for her to come home to cause more trouble in Heaven. 

My heart is fleetingly saddened by her passing but I know, without hesitation that when she arrives at the pearly gates they will be opened wide and she welcomed by the loving arms that have gone on before her.  Without pain, without heartache, free from the confines of her deteriorated body and into the presence of the Lord she believed so strongly in.

Grandmas I believe are comforters, friends, confidants, secret keepers, and cheerleaders.  Grandma D was just that, and so much more. 

The sun is shining here today and I know the warmth it brings today is her spirit, the shadow of her kindness and comfort on her hugs from above. Until we share gumdrops again, you’ll be missed.


May 17, 1928 - February 18, 2011

2 comments:

Holly C M said...

A moving tribute! I loved reading your memories of her. Sweet things--both of you.

Cupcake said...

Lovely. LOVELY!

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