Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ruby

My grandma's name is Ruby. She has one child, my mother, and three grandchildren.

When I was a kid, my grandma lived in Burien, WA in a small two-bedroom house next to the freeway. It was the same house that my mom was raised in. While in that house, my grandma watched three of her own children die and then her husband when my mother was only in the 3rd grade.

My grandma was a fighter. She worked long hours at Boeing to support herself and my mother. She loved to talk about her years there and would explain her job and what an honor it was to have that job as a woman at that time. My grandma was a survivor of The Depression which we were reminded of each time we found a roll or sugar packets from restaurants in her purse. She would tell us stories and sing us songs from that time and I was always impressed with her. In her 60's, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Back then survival rates were low but my grandma wasn't the kind of girl to let it get her down. She lost a breast but she thought of it as an opportunity at a new start. She quit smoking and did her best to eat healthy and live each day with a better outlook.

My grandma was full of energy and charm. She loved to go dancing. There were several clubs she frequented when she was younger and she never seemed to be lacking for a date. Even in her 70's and 80's men would call on my grandmother. I remember a couple of years ago, I went to the Senior Citizen Center with my grandma. She went there every Tuesday and Thursday to "shoot the bull with the guys." When we walked into the cafe, there was a round table with five old men and every single one of them lit up when my grandma walked in. They beckoned her over, bought her coffee and then hung on every word she said. My grandma went from room to room and from group of people to group of people. Everybody knew my grandma and everybody was delighted to see her. And my grandma treated each of them as if they were the only important person in her life. As her granddaughter, I knew just what that felt like.

As a kid, about once a month I would get a turn spending the night at grandma's. She would only take us one at a time and only after we were potty trained. As a grandma, she wouldn't change diapers or break up sibling fights. But that was alright with me. Going to grandma's was a special time because of that. It was just her and me. She'd play cards with me and we'd do word searches together. She taught me all kinds of card games and tricks. Sometimes we'd just sit and watch television together and eat ice cream. We'd wake up and she would make me toast. Perfect toast with butter and the best strawberry jam I'd ever had. Strawberry jam that we'd made together the previous spring. She would take me to the mall and we'd walk around looking at everything. Then we'd go to lunch with some of her friends, usually at Huckleberry Finn downtown. She'd brag about me. And I would bask in her approval and love. She would look at me, pull up my chin so I would look her in the eye and she'd smile and say, "Too bad there's no market for kids."

I loved her stories she'd tell about what she was like when she was a kid. She told me all about how I'm just like her and that often the things I did reminded her of herself. I love the way she smells. She always had a quick wit. She was always thinking. She was brilliant at Wheel of Fortune, could have won millions on Jeopardy. She was always reading something. A newspaper was by her recliner. Books piled high on her nightstand. My grandma read two or three books a week until she lost her eye sight. She would tell me that everything I'd ever want to know is in books.

My grandma died early this morning. I'm going to miss all of these things about her but as I told her yesterday, I'm so glad that she's my grandma and I'm thankful for all the things she taught me. I love her. I always will.

See you later, alligator... In a while, crocodile...

7 comments:

Ann-Marie said...

what a beautiful tribute to your grandma. she sounds like a wonderful lady!

Brandi Ann said...

Em, you must take after your grandma because you are absolutely amazing too. She would be so proud of the woman you've become.
Brandi

Nessa said...

I'm sorry honey. But I'm glad you have so many good memories. I agree, this is a beautifl tribute to her.

Sarah said...

I love you, Em! Your grandmother was a wonderful, sweet, funny, lady that I'm privileged to have grown up with as well. I'll always remember how she made me laugh. Your family is in my prayers always. I miss you all!

Spliz said...

the only thing that sucks more than your life is a vacuum.

Tramp said...

My condolences to you on the passing of your beloved grandmother. You were lucky and blessed to have her. And she, you.

Audrey said...

My second English name is RUBY,too.