Sitting on my front steps this morning, stealing a few minutes of quiet before lawnmowers and obligations, I enjoy my watered down coffee while breathing in all of the signs of life around me.
The little marigold seeds sprouting up, the cool but humid air, and the Magnolia tree with its new white cottony blooms. They look like little pom poms.
This reminds me of my grandmother, my dad’s mom whom we called Pom Pom. The name, coined by my sister, had something to do with a hat she had made.
Pom Pom knitted beautiful sweaters, blankets, hats and scarves. My cousins called her Gammie and Gammie Maine because that is where she lived before she went back to New Jersey.
And before New Jersey, it was Scotland and Connecticut. That’s when she was Alice.
But to me, she was always Pom Pom.
When I think of her, I think of peach colored pants, the polyester texture dimpled like Ruffles Potato chips. Later, they were replaced with soft velour that my mom bought for her.
My mom would call her to check in and make sure she had enough chocolate. When I think about those phone conversations, they feel like a tangible example of unconditional love. My mom, always there for her.
Pom Pom was the most flexible grandmother I had ever seen. She would sit in a chair cross legged with hips as open as a book, watching t.v. enjoying a Scotch and maybe a cigarette.
She was so beautiful in her old black and white photographs. I used to look at them, admiring her elegance along with her perfectly coiffed hair and posture, stunning smile, and lovely nose. Sitting with her handsome husband; my dad’s dad and her three boys.
She looked happy. Before her husband died so young and she had to move back to the states from Scotland with my dad and his brothers.
She eventually married again. This time to a man with a son and a daughter. Thank goodness, she found happiness again.
I recall her saying things like, “Good Night Nurse” and “Watch your tongue, Bud” and telling me how lucky I was when I would pull a juice box out of the fridge.
I felt that I never knew her very well. But I always loved knowing that she was one of five girls, a colorful and beautiful bunch of sisters.
Sometimes when she visited us in Arizona or New Jersey, she seemed sad or distant. I wondered if she would have rather have been somewhere else.
But I fondly remember her the last Thanksgiving with my Dad before he died. She sat at our dining room table with the china with the letter B on it, wearing a cowboy hat that I put on her head while we listened to the song, “I’m too sexy.” She was a good sport that night!
This remembering today makes me feel incredibly grateful for my mom and my mother – in-law and that my kids have had so much time getting to know them. Being picked up from school, vacations, playing card games and Scategories, making macaroni and cheese along with various desserts, and the best part…hearing lots of I love you’s – indelible memories they will treasure forever.
It also encourages me to love the heck out of people even if they bug me or I don’t quite “get” them. It feels like a nudge to believe that people are doing the best they can.
I knew my grandma loved me even though it wasn’t something she said. And it was interesting, we never spoke about religion and I don’t think of her as being particularly religious. But before she died, she asked me to “speak to the Lord for her”.
It felt like a gift, like a window into her soul and an acknowledgment of mine. This, I will carry with me forever. And in some way, I feel like I am getting to know her more now, a slow and sweet unveiling of her spirit and her story whispering to me through the breezes and the blossoms.