June 18, 1916 - January 31, 2012
We've been going through the things at my Grandmother's apartment this week, and one of the things she had was a memory book from grade school through high school. Like an autograph book that her friends signed throughout the years and they generally put a little verse of some sort on the page where they wrote as well. They were WAY more poetic than the "stay cool!" kind of things we wrote in our yearbooks. Anyway, there was one from her friends Florence that really spoke to me:
But always paddle your own canoe.
My grandmother is one of the strongest role models I have ever met. She didn’t do it on purpose, she didn’t do it for show, she just did it. I know that, because she never boasted about her accomplishments, as a matter of fact, I only found out about a majority of them in the last five years. She got her pilot’s license through a program to teach civilians to fly planes during the war, and although the program was ultimately canceled, she still flew planes. She got her PhD in education.
And I bet she’s been to any country you ever thought you wanted to go to. She traveled the world extensively after my grandfather died, every year her Christmas cards featured a picture from her travels, I specifically loved the one from Egypt where she was sitting on a camel in front of the pyramids. If I go to a third of the countries she’s been to, I would consider myself well-traveled.
She also had a green thumb. She had a HUGE garden and always had a row of green tomatoes on the window sill waiting for them to ripen. And anytime I don’t know what a plant is, my response is, “Well, I could ask Grandma, she’ll probably know.”
Each summer I spent a week with her, and we ate hot dogs and macaroni and cheese the entire week. I also remember that she had a Tupperware container in the fridge with a bunch of different kinds of cheese in it. It was a glorious week of eating exactly what any kid would want to eat! She’d let me ride my tricycle inside the house until grandpa got upset about it. And we went swimming almost every day, piling into the front seat of her sky blue Dodge Dart with the hot pleather seats. She’d swim laps while I swam in the shallow end. Each summer we’d also do something else during the week besides swimming. One time she took me to Hanna-Barbera Land…where she convinced me to ride the sole rollercoaster in the park. And I screamed like someone was stabbing me in the eye, then steadfastly refused to ride another roller coaster for 4-5 years. The next summer she took me to Astro World – which would have been more cost effective if it hadn’t been during my roller coaster boycott, but we rode several non-roller coaster rides and still had fun. I took ceramic painting classes with her, and a pottery class and I remember her taking me to the Children’s museum once too.I’ll miss her a lot, but I’m glad I have those good memories to look back on.