Remembering Grandma C

My grandparents were a very striking couple. She was tall at 5’8” for a woman and he was 6’9” - very unusual for their generation.Grandma C is my father’s mother. I remember getting excited about trips to see her at a very young age. Perhaps because she had a special place in her heart for her granddaughters. (Don’t feel sorry for the boys; she loved them all, too!) My Grandpa C passed away when I was 8 months old, so I didn’t ever get a chance to know him, but Grandma C stayed with us until I was almost 20.

Some of my earliest memories of her were when she used to brush out her very long hair and put it up in the braided up-do you see in this picture. Then, sometime in the early 80s she had to have brain surgery and they shaved off all of her hair. She never grew it long again, but I never forgot what it was like before the surgery.

There are so many things that I associate with her. York peppermint patties (though she’d mostly buy cheap off brands in bulk to save money). She also loved Andes mints, but didn’t get them very often. I think she had a thing for mint chocolate combos.

She played solitaire in her La-Z-Boy recliner on a board that created a desk. (It was a great thing. I’ve asked Matt to make me one.)

Every time I see a champagne-colored Oldsmobile I remember Grandma C. That was her car of choice. I got to drive it once (a big privilege in my mind since it was custom ordered).

Her favorite hymn was “In the Garden”. I sang it at her funeral and now I can’t hear it without thinking of her and tearing up. (I haven’t been able to sing it since her funeral at all.)

Grandma C was a smoker and every once in a while I’m around someone whose smoke smells like hers did. My sensitivity to cigarette smoke started after she was forced to quit so the scent actually has a good association for me.

On occasions when my younger brother and I were visiting her for the day, Grandma C used to make us butter sandwiches for lunch, or my personal favorite - banana sandwiches. She would tell us about how much she loved onion sandwiches as we cringed and made faces. She loved vidalia (sweet) onions. I remember her moving about her kitchen, preparing the food and humming as she did it. She always hummed little tunes as she went through the day. I loved hearing her humming.

At 12:30 every Monday through Friday, she would tune in to CBS to watch The Young and the Restless. If she was home for the rest of the afternoon, she’d watch the rest of the CBS soaps, but Y&R was her favorite.

She was good at telling stories. We used to beg her to tell us the tales about when she was a young girl and as I got older, she began to share the history of her relationship with my grandfather. They snuck around to be able to see each other when she was in college and then were married secretly for two years after she finished college. Grandma C was a rebel!

You can just see those two necklaces in this picture. I once tried carrying on the tradition of wearing them both, but they always get twisted.She always wore two necklaces - every single day. Both were gold. One had gold balls strung on it and the other had a trolley car charm. I’m very lucky to have both those necklaces in my possession to remind me of Grandma C. Along with her cedar chest and sewing machine. I also have her sewing basket where I found a letter tucked away from a good friend of hers who hadn’t known about her secret marriage - that was a fun find!

Grandma C was a fabulous woman. She loved her family dearly and it showed. She rarely ever complained, so when she did people took notice. Like the time my mom started making her meals without salt (on doctor’s orders). She asked if Debbie (my mom) could go back to cooking like she used to. It was barely a complaint, but Mom got the message and she figured that if it made Grandma’s last few weeks more enjoyable, then she could have salt in her diet.

It’s hard to lose special people like Grandma C, but I’m so thankful I got to know her. My life is truly richer for having had her in it.