Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Good Foundation

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my Grandma W. When I was younger I would spend a week with her during the summer. It was a great time. Grandma was a widow who worked as a cook at the school in her town. She had lived in her area all her life, so she knew many people. We would spend our days puttering around the house, visiting relatives, walking around the reservoir, walking to church and the library, and watching her stories.

Grandma loved visiting and would take you to see Aunt Alice with her floor looms for hand quilting, Aunt Ruth with her candy jars, great grandma with her mysterious dark rooms, Roxanne with the basement hair salon, Aunt Adelphia and her daughter June, her friend Betty, and many more. She would talk about who lived where when and what they were currently doing. She told me about my dad and painting houses with my grandfather. She told me everything about her town, and a lot about the neighboring towns as we drove around in her blue Buick Monarch.

Soap operas intrigued her, and she loved One Life to Live and Guiding Light. She called them her stories. As a widow, Grandma was also partial to Tom Selleck. I always wondered what exactly she meant when she said he could put his slippers under her bed anytime. If we weren't busy, we would watch her shows in the afternoon working on crossword puzzles together. She was a whiz at crosswords. Occasionally she would start to snooze a bit with the warm sun coming in the front windows.

Grandma was quick with a game of Old Maid. She would try to foul you up by putting cards in the front of her glasses and look at you like nothing was amiss. Should you pick from her hand or grab the one sticking out of her glasses? Oh, how to decide! She loved playing games -- War, Go Fish, Rummy, Old Maid and sometimes Euchre.

There were always sandwich cookies in her house. Sometimes she even had the neopolitan wafer cookies. The ones that you could separate into layers and eat the cream and then the flaky wafers. She was generous with them too. You weren't limited to three like at home. She also had a stash of gum. I remember her always chewing gum. She would give you a stick whenever you wanted one. At Christmas she even gave you a plenti-pac!

After dinner most nights, we took a walk throughout the neighborhood. She would stop and talk to people as the mosquitoes started to appear. We would head to one of the three reservoirs in town. You could walk clear around them. It was great fun throwing rocks into the water and watch the sunset. She was a spry and energetic Grandma.

There are other things to remember about my Grandma -- her shower in the basement, keeping glass soda bottles on the stairwell, the heat register in her middle room, her garden, the smell of the garage --but the biggest thing reminding me of my grandmother this week is her foundation garments. I always wondered about them. They were all white, and they were pointed. Why did they stand up when she dried them on the washer or the line? My moms laid flat, but not Grandma's. The reason I have thought about my Grandma and her foundation garments is that I went shopping this week. All I saw were pointed, preformed cups. They looked just like the ones my Grandmother wore. Granted the new style is colorful and textured, but they still look the same to me. 

So as I tried on various sizes, I thought of my grandmother. I thought of her changing into pants from shorts to leave the house. I thought of her running upstairs when I was scared during the night. I thought of my first memories at her house when I cut my own hair. And then I thought of her smooth silhouette and of Tom Selleck.


  1. Gosh I am a wreck after reading this! Your memories of your grandma reminded me of so many wonderful memories of my Grandma Ghrist. It's so amazing how special grandparents are. I live far from my parents, but it's so important for Gus to have the kinds of memories of my mom and dad, that I (and you) have of our grandparents. Thanks for a beautiful post... you sparked some memories in me!

  2. I was thinking the same thing... how lovely that you took us to our grandmother's home!
    Now we all get to think on that and smile, today.
    Just wonderful. Thank you. :)

  3. sigh. your words are beautiful and powerful, but quiet and my own grandmothers, who i miss dearly. you made me laugh out loud with the pointy 'brassiere' musings (you reminded me of myself when i was 10!). :)

  4. Thanks everyone. Cathy, I probably was around 9 or 10 at the time. I do miss my grandmothers terribly and only wish I had asked more and listened to their wisdom.

  5. I had such a smile reading this. Your grandma sounds like such a special lady! My grandma is a bit like Joan Crawford (ever seen Mommy Dearest?). What a wonderful lady yours was! I loved the memories of foundation garments, stories and Tom Selleck's slippers especially. :)
    (Magic and Mayhem)

  6. Thanks, Alicia! I was lucky to have two wonderful grandmothers (as well as one grandfather)