I spent every summer with my grandmother to the point that a lot of my childhood memories revolve around the things that we did together and the memories I have of her.
I remember the blankets on the beds – blue flowery bankets edged in teal satin. Her perfume – that dark brown, “grandmother” perfum from Estee Lauder called (interestingly) Youth Dew. Her Adorn hairspray. The aluminum gliders on the porch. Fireflies in the twilight. The tree in the back yard. The peonies in the front yard. How she would sneak a cigarette on the back porch while my grandfather was working in his study. Laundry day and the laundry chute. Sewing with her in the basement. The way the books in the basement smelled and being scared of what really was behind THAT wooden door down there!
She, my grandfather and I would sit on their bed and watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball on KDKA every night they were on. If they weren’t on we would listen to them on the radio and if it was a really special night, we would go INTO Pittsburgh to see the game at Three Rivers Stadium! I loved each of those nights and love the Buccos to this day! I can still hear her kvell about her favourite players. When I was an exchange student in New Zealand the Pirates made it to the World Series and not only did my grandmother send me Heinz ketchup that year but she also send me all kinds of Pirate memorabilia that was in all of the stores so I wouldn’t miss out.
She was a home ec teacher and taught school for 30 years before she retired. My dad decided to take bartending school in Pittsburgh so while he would be in school, my grandmother would teach me to sew. I made a really geeky polyester outfit but the time we spent together making it remains priceless. I wish I had a sewing machine even now because I love sewing that much. When I was little and lived with her before my mom married my dad, my grandmother not only dyed her own shoes…she also made all of her own clothes. That’s some serious respect you’re seeing from over here!
I still have her teaching cookbook which I use a lot. Her favorite recipes are marked in it.
One thing though she couldn’t stand were vegetables and the way she choked them down was copious quantities of Velveeta melted on them. I was basically starved at home since my parents were never there and school lunch was our only meal most of the time so this delicacy of Velveeta and broccoli or french cut green beans was like nectar!
And as far as I was concerned, her only really bad habit was her smoking. I think because of it I can jokingly say she became addicted to Tic Tacs. I know now that when I pop one in my mouth, that sweet vanilla mint outer coating makes me think immediately of her. The smell of Youth Dew wafts around me and my grandmother is right there again.
I hope she knows how many memories she gave me and how very much I miss her. She is so much a part of who I am and tehe person I have become…more so I think than even my mother.
Tic tacs, velveeta, baseball and everything.