It sure has been a long time since we’ve talked. I hope all is well in heaven. Have you and God been having long conversations? You’ve been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought I’d write you a letter. I remember how much you always loved receiving a letter in the mail, and that you would write letters to your family who lived miles away, too.
The last time I turned on the TV in the afternoon and saw a soap opera on, I thought of you, Grandma. You used to love watching Days of Our Lives and General Hospital. Not much has changed. Well, maybe. There’s still always drama, crying and yelling. People can’t get along. Except now, Grandma, they have men kissing men. I know. Even as progressive as you were in some of your thoughts and ideas, I don’t think you would have gone for that. Seeing how Elvis would shake his hips when he was singing was enough to make you scowl, though I did notice you kept on watching. But two men kissing on TV…nope, I think that one would make you turn the TV off and go water your flowers.
Speaking of flowers, I’ve never seen flowers like yours much since. Somehow, it was always comforting to see you outside working in your flower beds. Pruning, trimming, digging, planting. You would have sweat dripping like crazy off your forehead, but you’d just take your apron hem, wipe it away, and then keep on working. Every so often, I’d see you with the wheelbarrow loaded up with cow manure that you got from the pile back of the barn. You knew exactly which kind you wanted, too. The kind that had mellowed for quite a while and was a bit on the drier side. You knew exactly what would make your flowers and vegetables grow.
You had the loveliest roses in your garden. They were always beautiful. You spent a lot of time reading up on how to keep bugs and insects away organically, but if that didn’t work, you’d blast them with something. Nothing was going to mess with your flowers and get away with it. I liked that about you. You took care of who and what you loved. You took care of me.
I miss the conversations we’d have on the front porch while we were shelling beans. Didn’t matter what kind of beans they were, and you had several kinds. I’d fuss and complain about having to do it, but secretly, I loved spending the time with you. You told a lot of stories about growing up and I wish now I had listened more, or written them down so I could have remembered. You didn’t have an easy life, but I don’t remember you ever complaining, just reminiscing.
The other times I really enjoyed was when everyone else was out at the barn milking the cows, you’d come over and we’d watch little Joey together, and you’d help me with my homework. Oh, how you fussed about that “new math.” I think it’s even worse now, Grandma. But then, if we could get that homework out of the way, we’d play Chinese Checkers. It was so much fun! You’d almost always beat me, but it didn’t really matter. You’d get on to me when I missed a really good move. It made me mad, but I know you were trying to teach me to be more observant, and to think more. You were great like that. You knew that women could be great thinkers and do pretty much anything they wanted in life. Back then, that was pretty progressive thinking.
I was always proud of you, Grandma. You lived in California for a few years as a housekeeper/nanny and experienced things I will never experience. You worked for a family named Finkle, who made hats. Hats were a big thing back in the day. You had so many stories to tell, places you’d been to, people you saw while riding the bus shopping in Los Angeles. I think those were probably some of the happiest days of your life. But when Joey was born, you felt there was a need for you to come back to Ohio, and you did. I was probably one of the luckiest little girls in the world to have my Grandma living just a few yards away from our house. You were a big help to everyone. I know Dad yelled and grumbled a lot, but you were always there to help and I know you were greatly appreciated, even if it wasn’t said. Thank you, Grandma. Thank you for caring enough to help with Joey, and with me.
There are so many memories I have of you, joyful ones. Picnics in the backyard, trips to Pomeroy to go grocery shopping and to the feed mill. You loved riding into town. It didn’t take long at all for you to put on a little rouge and lipstick, a “good” dress and pair of shoes. The good shoes and work shoes looked the same, except the good shoes were newer. And then you began wearing pant suits, polyester pant sets that looked so good on you. Again, you showed the progressive side of yourself, even if you were a devout Republican. You knew the value of a dollar and chose your spending wisely. But you never failed to bring me back a gift when you were away visiting or traveling with someone. You always thought of me, Grandma, and it was so very nice to be thought of. You even gave me the first Bible of my very own. I hope you know how much that changed my life.
Well, Grandma, I’d better close for now. I still have a couple chores to do and I know how much you liked chores being done. I miss you and love you. We’ll talk again soon, I promise.