Most of my growing up, I remember her living about two minutes away, in a little apartment where my siblings and I visited often. She was not a "we'll see her on the holidays" grandma. She was always around. When my sister and I would get angry with our parents, we would pack little bags of clothes and canned goods and plot to run away... which meant running to Grandma's house... explain the whole situation to her, and just KNOW that she would hide us for at least long enough that Mom and Dad would feel badly about us being gone. We never actually did it. I think I got as far as crossing our street once, and I got so afraid I'd get caught just crossing the street, that I ran back home and unpacked my bags... frustrated again that I didn't have the guts to go through with it. Incidentally, Mom always knew about these plans. She let us plot and scheme anyway.
My mom and grandma were so very close. Mom was the baby of five, and the only one of Grandma's children who didn't move away from the area after growing up and having families of their own. Grandpa passed away when I wasn't even 3, and that's when Grandma moved so close to us. If Grandma wasn't at our house, we would usually know she was on the other end of the telephone line, while Mom cooked dinner or did dishes in the kitchen. She would even let Mom pass the phone to any one of us kids, and we'd chat away. She would entertain me endlessly with her phone calls. Mom says she'd let me chatter away about anything, and had no problem with any conversation my little heart desired. I would even sing songs to her over the phone. :)
I called her Mom-Mom all the way until I started KG. My mom tells the story that I came home from school one day, and asked Mom-Mom if I could call her "Grandma." She said, "Well, why, Laura? I love being your mom-mom." I answered, "None of the other kids at school have a mom-mom. They all have grandmas!" Probably broke her sweet grandma-heart, but that was the end of "Mom-Mom." She was "Grandma" from then on. I even have a locket that my parents gave her with the name "Mom-Mom" engraved on it. I wish I'd never asked her to let me change it.
Oh, how she brightened a room when she entered it. She loved colorful clothes and shoes and accessories. She would let us girls come over and play in all of her jewelry and we just loved that she'd never had her ears pierced, because that meant we could try on all of her clip-on earrings! She laughed... a lot... and loudly. :) She loved to give us hugs and kisses, and to play with our hair.
Dress up at Grandma's house.
She always carried peppermints in her purse.
She was sassy and mouthy and loved to tease my dad.
She knew how to laugh at herself. She never embarrassed easily.
She made regular appointments to get her "curly" (a perm) refreshed at the local hair salon.
She never had a driver's license.
She always kept Pepperidge Farms refrigerator cakes in her fridge.
She got married when she was only 17.
She never liked chocolate, because when she was young and worked in a chocolate factory, smelling it so often made her feel sick. She never had a taste for it afterwards. We thought that was CRAZY! :)
She went to the "center" every week, where she hung out with other senior citizens... just to get in her social time.
She went school shopping with us every year. She and mom would plan a day when we'd all walk to Kmart or Venture during the school sales, and we would get new supplies and clothes.
She loved to take pictures. She let me borrow her camera.
She was strong. She loved and cared for her mentally disabled son, when "back in the day," many other parents tried to convince her to put him in "a home." He passed away at 17 years old, and Grandma always ever spoke of him as having been such a blessing to her.
She ironed EVERYTHING.
She loved red.
She loved trains, because her daddy was an engineer.
She loved Native American decor in her home, because her birth mother was half Cherokee. Her mom passed away when Grandma was very young, and she liked to have things around that made her think of her.
She loved music by Julio Iglesias.
She wore dentures and used to let us take them out. Hahaa!
She would tell me when she thought a boy on TV was "cute." :)
She saved paper towels and aluminum foil and rubber bands, because she grew up during The Depression and never wanted anything to go to waste.
She had a million stuffed-toy kitty cats on her bed. And she made her bed that way every day, without fail and without flaw.... every cat had its place.
Sitting at the snack bar at Grandma's apartment.
She was truly one of the most special people I've ever known. I'm so thankful for my memories of her. I feel lucky that many of her personality characteristics were passed down to me. :) Every time my mom says I remind her of Grandma, it makes me smile.
We always joke that God decided to take her on April Fool's Day. She would've gotten a kick out of that. :) And she would've laughed and laughed as she told the story.
We all adored her... and we miss her.