I Remember (Grand)Mama

My Grandmother, in a piece from her trousseau

“Don’t frown; it will cause wrinkles!”

If my Grandmother said this to me once, she said it a million times. I miss her. While it has been years since she passed away, she took flight over Memorial Day weekend.

Grandmother was elegant, charming, and always a lady. She was also an extraordinary flirt, which is a win-win for a gorgeous woman, which she was.

She was the only child of prosperous parents. Her aunt made every piece of her wardrobe (including everything from the lace to the buttons of her trousseau).

Grandmother had three husbands, three children, and seven grandchildren. People still come up to me and say that she and my Grandfather looked like a movie star couple.

I don’t think she felt like much of a movie star during WWII. My Grandfather was in the Cavalry and she lived on an army base in San Antonio with three children under five. There were lots of Hispanic children on the base, which, for some unknown reason, inspired my five-year-old Mother to become a humanitarian. She took my Grandmother’s jewelry box, which was filled with some serious bling, and passed the contents out to all her young friends. My Mom still remembers the spanking she got and none of the jewelry was ever recovered. Whoops. Completely overwhelmed with kiddos and trying to live on a very small budget, she finally threw in the towel, called my Great-Grandmother and pleaded for help. My Great-Grandmother thought over her darling daughter’s plight – no money, three ankle biters, and army base life. She did what any mother would do. She sent her a full-length mink coat. No wonder my Grandmother’s hair turned white at 26.

Flash forward to my appearance on the scene. Grandmother was all of 40 when I was born. She adored me because she didn’t have to birth me, I was her first grandchild, and I went home with my parents. She also loved me like her own child, which I could have been. My sister and cousins will tell you I was the female equivalent to “Baby Jesus” according to my Grandmother. They were loved as well, but sort of had “shepherd status”. Happens.

Four Generations

Mom, me, and Grandmother

I spent lots of time with my Grandparents. And it was all good.

The Three Amigo(a)s

Flash forward to the last years. She called my Mom, “Sis”; they lunched together every Friday. While “mothering” might not have been her best gig, she gave it what she could. Grandmother never said a bad word about anyone but I’m sure she thought of some zingers. And she had very nice manners. When my Dad’s father, Andy, came to town, she invited him for dinner. Andy was born and raised in the very rural deep South. And he thought Grandmother was “hubba hubba” material. After dinner, he gave my Grandmother a big compliment. He said, “Beautiful Lady, them squashes was delicious!”. Her reply, “Oh Andy, you do go on so.”

She was a steel magnolia. Her southern accent got deeper when she sipped on her favorite adult beverage, a scotch mist. The only time we got sideways was when McPaddie was born.  We decided to call McPaddie by a nickname; Grandmother said she absolutely would not call the new baby anything but her formal name. I said that was fine, the entire world minus her, would be using the nickname. She caved, and dearly loved both of my daughters. When she passed away, we ordered a blanket of fresh magnolias for her coffin. When I went to check on the situation, all the magnolias looked like they’d barely survived a southern tsunami. I marched myself into the funeral director’s office and said, “SHE MAY BE DEAD BUT THE FLOWERS SHOULDN’T BE, MR. MAN!”. Winner, winner, scotch mist for dinner!

I miss her.

The Steel Magnolia in her early 20's

My Grandmother at 78

And she was right, you know. If you frown, you will get wrinkles.

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