When I turn 83, I desire to have as many fantastic stories as you, and can only hope have lived a life half as feisty as you, Grandma.
My grandma gave me my first sip of coffee at The Blue Bird when I was most likely four years old. She drank it with ‘Sweet-n-Low’ in it, and my sister and I would go out to breakfast with her there often. Grilled hard roll and coffee is what grandma would order. I remember my sister and I would split a slice of lemon meringue pie — the lemon part for me, meringue for my sister. I now drink my coffee black. Lesson learned: I don’t like ‘Sweet-n-Low.’
When my grandma moved out of town, we’d visit all the time. Either my mother would drive us over, or Grandma would pick us up. I vividly remember asking once when Grandma drove how much longer it would take to get there. She said, “Well, I’m going 60, so a mile a minute and 13 miles left.” Surprisingly, with my atrocious math skills, I was able to figure that out at age seven, and continue to use that as my base as to figure out my estimated time of arrival to this day.
Grandma loves to read. As do I. She has told me the story many times about how she was tasked as a child with carrying the milk from the barn to the house, but she had a novel in one hand and the bucket in the other, and she was reading as she walked. By the time she made it to the house, most of the milk had spilled out of the bucket, and she was punished. But, she didn’t cry over a little bit of spilled milk.
As a child, I remember that Grandma’s nails were always painted to perfection. Bright red, usually. As an adult, one of my favorite things to do is paint my nails, occasionally bright red.
Grandma, a mother of six, would always share stories of how things were in Norwich when she was raising the kids while working. She’d often work double shifts to make ends meet. I credit her with some of where I inherited my work ethic.
If there’s one thing Grandma has, it’s an impeccable memory. She could have told me a story ten years ago, and if she told it to me last weekend, not a detail would have changed. She remembers the cost of a certain item in 1948. She could tell you who she was with on a given weekend when she was 16. The names of lawyers, the police chief, people on the street she lived on, among various other things.
Grandma was impulsive, very much like myself. On a whim, her and her friends would take a trip to New York City for the fun of it. “If you feel like doing something, you might as well go ahead and do it,” she’d say. As someone who got married 100 days after meeting her husband, I’d say I took that advice to heart.
She would take the cousins and I on lunch dates on our breaks from college. At one such lunch, Grandma was getting pretty silly, and attributed it all to the Amaretto pound cake she had for dessert. Many hilarious moments at that lunch.
There’s so much more she has taught me, but my eyes get all watery trying to think of it all.
Before I even began working at The Evening Sun, Grandma had said that one of these days she would like to go drive to pick up her newspaper in a bright red convertible. I hope that happens.
I do know that I eat the crust of my bread now, but only because she convinced me it’s the best part.
So, on this day, Grandma, your 83rd birthday, I would like to thank you for all you’ve taught me about life. I wouldn’t be the person I am without your wisdom, humor, and lust for life.