On Saturday night, my grandmother passed away. She was in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease and we'd known for about a week that she didn't have much time left. The last time she left Florida to visit the family in the Midwest, it was obvious that she had no idea who we were or where she was.
Back in 2002, well before my grandmother's dementia became evident, I wrote down and sent her some of my favorite childhood memories of visiting her house. I'm now very glad I had a chance to share them with her while she could still appreciate it. Here are some excerpts:
- Playing BINGO at your house, complete with tidily gift-wrapped prizes. I even remember one of the prizes: a tiny bottle of pikake flower perfume. To this day, I still love pikake scent.
- Crafts on the kitchen table. A lot of them involved beads, as I recall, including various Christmas ornaments. For a while after the craft that involved crocheting beads onto stretchy metallic necklaces, I had a little business going, making and selling necklaces to my friends in elementary school. Someday that skill might save me from the poor house, you never know!
- Speaking of crafts, who could ever forget the Beaded Fruit set you gave me for Christmas one year? I know my mother never forgot - at least not until years later when she finally finished vacuuming up beads, sequins and straight pins from the kit!
- Sitting in your TV room drinking cran juice and eating Oreo cookies - what a combination! I still consider both cran juice and Oreos a special treat.
- Going to your house on New Year’s Eve and getting to drink a glass of real champagne. I still have the pictures we took to show my parents, posed with lamp shades on our heads.
- Baking at your house. The jar of silver nonpariels in your cupboard sticks in my mind, mainly because as a child (and even now), I never understood who would eat such a thing.
My grandmother had a tremendous influence on me in many ways. She was a newspaper reporter who, along with my late mother (also a reporter and eventually an advertising copywriter), encouraged me to pursue a writing career. She handed down recipes from her mother and grandmothers that I still cook today. Whenever I write an article, make a home-cooked meal, play a card game, take care of my houseplants or read a mystery novel, I'll always think of her.