I spent the last week celebrating the life of my grandmother. Check her out in the picture above. This was my grandmother, Meme, celebrating her 80th birthday! My uncle had a hard time keeping up with her on the dance floor that day. You can see my grandfather in the background of this image smiling at her and just letting her do her thing. She tried to make every day a celebration.
As my family reflected on her life this past week, my grandfather summed her up the best: "She was just a marvelous woman. She was...well...something else." Needless to say, tears welled in my eyes when I heard this.
Other family members offered very thoughtful, honest, candid and often humorous input on Meme's life as the days passed.
- She always made sure her family was well fed - My brother said Meme always wanted him to eat grapefruit because "it was healthy for him" (despite the mounds of sugar my grandmother had to put on it to get him to eat it). I recall her delicious bean with bacon soup (thank you, Campbell's), the never-ending supply of goldfish crackers and the tomato sandwiches. Of course, there were never enough HOMEMADE rolls to go around. I tried to make these with her once, but realized that I would never get her recipe since it literally consisted of a "pinch" of this and a "dash" of that and it took ALL DAY to make only a few precious pieces of baked dough.
- Exposure to the Arts - Meme did her best to expose my brother and I to the arts. She and my grandfather took my brother and I to the Nutcracker when we were very young. I remember this, but my brother has conveniently put it out of his memory. He was definitely more into sports. She and my grandfather also expanded my horizons when I was twelve years old by taking me on a bus tour to NYC. We saw the Rockettes that trip and I remember my grandmother complimenting the dancers spectacular legs. HA!
- The beach -There's no doubt that my grandmother loved the beach. The woman just loved the sun in general. I think she was in her element anytime we went to the beach or to the pool to soak up some rays.
- Ear muffs - My grandmother tried to protect me from foul language as a child, but she didn't hesitate to say a few naughty words for a joke or to get her point across. She would tell me to cover my ears, but I would never cover them all the way. I didn't want to miss her story about the "sh!t that hit the fan!" Meme's theory on using cuss words was that there were more creative words one could use. It was too common to cuss and it definitely wasn't lady-like at all.
- Always important to look presentable - My grandmother was always impeccably dressed. I never saw the woman in jeans or sweatpants. I try never to go anywhere in something that my grandmother wouldn't approve of. This is not being prudish either. The woman owned a fringed, little black dress. She was H-O-T!
- "Fresh" - Meme enjoyed "fresh" food...especially her tomato sandwiches. She knew when something was made with fresh ingredients and she would let everyone know how much she enjoyed it.
- Thanksgiving "Turkey Song" - I will never, ever, ever have a Thanksgiving without Meme's Turkey Song. She sang it to us every year and I am so thrilled that my nieces have started to learn it as well.
- Bunny Rabbits - Meme loved bunny rabbits. Her home was filled with several, beautiful rabbit figurines, wall decorations and various other decorative items for the home. It sounds tacky, but, trust me, it was nothing of the sort. My grandmother had a taste for the finer things in life and her collection of rabbits reflected this.
- Appreciation for the finer things in life - China, Crystal, Silver - I simply don't remember a holiday when we didn't eat in the dining room on the fine china. It was very special.
- Dancing the Charleston - The day I realized that my grandmother was so cool was when she taught me how to dance the Charleston. She was so lite on her feet and just got down with her bad self.
- Fitness - My grandmother was the first to teach me about fitness. She was a master of teaching by example. We would always go for a walk after dinner when I spent the night with her during the summer. Meme knew it was important to live a healthy lifestyle. A piece of chocolate (or two) was part of this theory too.
- "Maaaawtha" - VERY few people in my life are allowed to call me by my first name, Martha, and have me respond. Meme never called me just by my middle name as all my friends do. She never wrote only my middle name in correspondence. It was ALWAYS "Maaawtha." She put the most elegant, southern stretch on my name. Of all the wonderful things I recall and fondly remember about my grandmother, I will certainly miss this the most.
Thank you, Meme, for all of your wonderful traits, lessons taught and love shared. XOXO.