Today, my Grandma Vera passed away. She lived a great 90 years and I am happy that she did not suffer. She had five children with one set of twins, was an amazing artist (mostly oil paintings) and a woman of excellent taste. We always called her Grandma Vera – which sounds a little strict, doesn’t it? Well, she was the Grandma that taught me that manners were of upmost importance. She was a strong believer in strength and putting on a brave face and I have to say I like that in a woman. I never saw her emotional. She was one tough cookie. In the summers my parents would send me to Chicago for two weeks. One week was spent with my Mom’s parents (see previous posts about Nannie and Poppies) and one week with Grandma Vera and Grandpa. (My Dad’s parents) Two VERY different experiences. I saved the good clothes for Vera’s if you know what I mean. Let me preface this all by saying, I loved her. She was a GREAT lady and some of my greatest strengths come from her. As with all people you encounter, there are always humorous moments so now, I will share:
We used to spend Thanksgivings going to Grandma Vera’s (this is just always how we referred to this side of the family –she was the matriarch) About a month prior to going, was spent shopping for perfect clothes – the kind of clothes we would never wear anywhere else as kids. Hair was cut, shoes were new, and manners were in check. My Mom would spend weeks anguishing about the trip and lecturing. As kids, we just enjoyed the chaos. Going to my grandparent’s house was an adventure. Their home was beautiful and classy. We saw things there we would never have seen otherwise. My Grandfather always drove a Cadillac. He reminded you of a Don of the Mafia and I often wondered if there were ever any ties…. They belonged to a country club where we swam during the day and dined at night. I loved going to the ladies room and seeing a real live attendant! I can recall every detail about their home with the laundry chutes we could fit into on every floor, the little mail slot in the front hall closet, the real bar with sink in the walk-out basement with a full kitchen where meals were cooked, the refrigerator that blended in with all the other kitchen cabinets, the mini containers of Hagen Daz ice cream in the freezer, the Schnauzer’s they had, the furs in the closet, and the vintage Barbie dolls that were kept in the bedroom that was through another bedroom like it was a secret. So many wonderful memories that I will cherish forever. As the years have gone by and my Mom is no longer responsible for how we are dressed, I see now the stress she was under to have us all looking perfect.
Guess where my husband is right now? At the store with our son getting new pants, shoes and shirt that are appropriate for this kind of funeral. I am tearing my closet apart. We really do not have the money to pull this off and to head to Chicago, but off we go, to mix in with the others, make it seem like we mature and ready for this adult stuff. Behind the scenes, you would be privy to swearing, threatening, begging, pleading and well all kinds of inappropriate behavior.
We will be seeing a lot of family that is now spread out all over the US that we haven’t seen in years. There will be arguing, fighting, crying, meddling, pettiness, love, hugs (OH NO, I’m NOT a hugger….) lipsticky kisses, memories, showing off, oh, just good times. Times that would make a great movie on the big screen, because some of these characters couldn’t be played any better by an actor or actress.
I can’t wait to bring back the stories I am sure I will have. Little memories as funny, sad or truly hilarious as they are bound to be, I will cherish forever.
I promise not to curse the kids and lecture, I’m going to try to be laid back and CLASSY – might not be easy, kind of already stressing about the state of our shoes, the fact that I could really use a haircut, pedicure, eyebrows done, nails done, whole new wardrobe, new car, - Oh Geez, it’s starting already.
I’ll try to post each day, but If I miss, just remember where I am and think good thoughts for me and know that I will have stories, oh will I have stories….
We actually saw Grandma Vera in April after having gone over 5 years without seeing her. We helped celebrate her 90th birthday and do you know what we did? We went to a high-end Bocce Ball center and she played – she was a member of a Bocce Ball and Ironing team for many many years. She out played all of us too. Of course now I am doing an inventory of what did we wear then and making sure we aren’t bringing any of the same things this time – ok, so now I need a new purse, a different outfit (I’m wearing my go-to shoes -see post about Coach shoes) I wonder if we have time to get the car detailed – yes, I know I have gone too far…. When were funerals ever about the person who passed? You know they are about everyone there – and this is not a bad thing, it’s why I love people – always have, always will – all their funny and irritating quirks and all.