03 May 2006

Grammy O.

Today, May 3rd, was my Grammy O's birthday. She died about a week before her 80th birthday in 1989. I was unprepared for her death despite the fact that she had leukemia for two years previous. I am still unprepared for the fact that she is not in this world with me. I was very fortunate to know all four of my grandparents, but my Grammy O became my friend as well. She was my confidante, a mentor, a fellow seamstress (but I have not nearly her skills or talent), and fellow early bird. I could and did call her early in the morning before work. That was our time. We talked at least once a week, sometimes more. I know she thought the money I was willing to spend on long distance was scandalous, but it wasn't the same to talk long distance now as it was when she first had a phone. This morning I would have called her to sing "Happy Birthday!" ... of course by now she'd be 97 and it's most unreasonable to expect her to still be alive. She doesn't know that LightBoy has her father's eyes, or her husband's sense of humor and people sense. She doesn't know that LightGirl has her grace and empathy. I wish sometimes that she did.

She taught me to type on her manual typewriter when I was ten. I still remember, "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog." I'm still bad at it, because now we can just backspace over errors. Back then an error was a big deal. Now, just backspace, or move your cursor and delete. She'd love word processors. Although, she'd probably also grumble that they make people lazy about spelling and proper typing technique. She'd be right, but if the idea is to get your words out, I'm not sure that spelling and typing technique matter at first.

The other day I was looking through some of my sewing stuff trying to locate a particular tool and I stumbled across some drawings that she and my aunt made when I was getting married. At the time they were proposing to make my wedding gown. LightHusband and I were really into the colonial period at the time and so these drawings were taken from that era. They never did make it; my aunt was going through some personal issues and as it turned out, Grammy was diagnosed with leukemia 2 weeks after my wedding. She was already feeling really bad and didn't have the energy to make a wedding dress. I still keep those drawings. Some day I might just make myself a period gown ... just because. In honor of my Grammy O.

I have her old Singer Featherweight 221 complete with the purchase invoice. She bought it in 1959. She used this machine exclusively til she died. These sewing machines are prized among quilters. Depending upon their condition they can sell for as much as $600. They sew well and are workhorses. I (of course) will not sell mine. She left me some jewelry as well. Tourmaline, which is a semi-precious stone and also a May birthstone because we share the same birth month. The jewelry doesn't mean nearly as much to me as the sewing machine.

I remember when she taught me to sew. We were in the process of moving from Kansas to New England. My father drove the truck with all of our belongings. My mother flew with my brothers and I to visit her parents in Florida. Grammy O. taught me to sew, by hand on her scraps. I made some clothes for my Barbies. She also taught me to swim on the kitchen table. I lay on the table while she taught me the crawl stroke and then we went to the bay and she held me up while I practiced in the actual water.

Later on I would go visit my grandparents on my own when they lived in Annapolis. She taught me to do embroidery (which I hated, but now like). They took me to Chintoteague for the Pony Penning one year and it was years later I learned that my grandfather and my mother got into a heated discussion because he wanted to buy a pony for me. My mother won, because (and she's right) there was no affordable manner of getting the pony from Chincoteague Island to Vermont.

My sophomore year in college my grandfather died rather suddenly on Veteran's Day. So I spent the better part of my Thanksgiving Break with Grammy O. She'd had time by then for the hubbub to calm down and I got to hear all of the stories. The stories of how they met, and courted, fell in love. After that, I got to spend time frequently with her. My grandfather had had emphysema and after he died, she was much more available for vacation time.

It's been seventeen years since I wished her Happy Birthday. You'd think I'd get used to it by now.

Happy Birthday Grammy O, with Love from your oldest granddaughter.
XXXOOO

2 Comments:

Blogger kate said...

That's beautiful, Sonja. She sounds like a very precious -- and formative -- person to you. God rest her soul.
When is YOUR birthday?

5/03/2006 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Lovely! I wish I could have met her.

5/03/2006 01:39:00 PM  

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