Tag Archives: grandma mary

Day 327: what are you thankful for? :: part 3

23 Nov

Monday kicked off a week-long series called “What are you thankful for?” — That’s right, ironically occurring just in time for a national holiday.

Part 3:

Today, I am thankful for:


As I write this post, I am feeling far, far, away from family and friends.
It will be just the two of us for Thanksgiving.

Which hardly a holiday it makes, since we both come from large family celebrations of cousins and babies, aunts, uncles and grandparents all circled around one table (plus the kids table of course!).

There is the far away in miles that I feel from my family of blood and birth, and then there is the far away in miles I feel from my family of friends — my tribe — the ones in my life who have been like adopted sisters, surrogate mothers, long lost brothers.

I miss them all on this night, the eve before family tradition and the annual breaking of bread, saying grace and giving thanks.

They are not here and I am not there.
But I feel close to them just the same.

Even though they are scattered from the West Coast to East Coast, from Texas to Delaware, Minnesota to Martha’s Vineyard, I have watched the festivities unfold on Facebook as if they were all right next door.  Actually, closer than next door, more like right in front of me on my computer screen.

Technology is amazing.
And, I am grateful for the connection.

And, then, there is the far away I feel from those I have lost, those who have moved on to the other side and left this world of turkey stuffing and Black Friday shopping.

Tonight, as I read Debi Lilly’s beautiful post, about how she and her family made a Tree of Life in remembrance of Grandpa Carl —  I was reminded of all the loved ones I wish I could spend Thanksgiving with too.

And, that, reminded me of another amazing technology at my fingertips.

If I close my eyes long enough, I can hear Mama Sling’s laughter in the kitchen.  I can see her waking up at the crack of dawn to kneed her home-made dough and place it upon the television set (the warmest spot in the house) where it would rise to perfection before being turned into the World’s Most Amazing Rolls, cinnamon rolls and elephant ears.

If I sit still long enough, I can taste Aunt Deenie’s pies, with that light golden crust.  Oh, the pumpkin!  The pecan!  The chocolate pudding — especially the chocolate pudding! 

If I breathe in deep enough, I can smell Grandma Mary’s baked beans, and honestly, everything else that came after eating Grandma Mary’s baked beans.

And, if I dig deep enough, I can imagine myself sitting around a table with all of my lost loved ones.  Sure, they would make fun of me for my new eating habits, lifestyle, and food choices, but they are so close I can almost hear the conversation around the table.

My mother would say: “What do you mean you don’t want dessert? You always ate dessert in my house!”

Aunt Deenie would look me up and down and announce to the room — “You are too skinny child, you need to eat more.” 

Just as Grandma Mary would wink in my direction and remind me to tuck in my tummy — “as every woman of a certain age should.” 

So tomorrow, while the table will be set for two, I will feel plugged in to everyone in this world who I love, adore and miss.

Because, really, they are all just a wink and a smile, and photo upload away.
Gotta love that technology.

Day 125: mary, mary

5 May

Today is my father’s birthday.
And this is his mother, my grandmother:

For a while she was called “Mangra” only because my sister switched the two syllables around in her little toddler brain.

Other than that short-lived mispronunciation, she was known as Grandma Mary.

With Mother’s Day upon us, I am reminded I no longer have a living mother or grandmother. My lineage of direct female ascendants has dwindled to just my sister and myself.

I certainly have fond memories of time spent with my mother, Mama Sling.  But, today, being the day of my father’s birth, I was thinking about Grandma Mary.

There’s Grandma Mary’s infamous baked beans recipe, her perfectly teased hair, her stacks of People magazine, and that finger nail polish!  I remember the day she told me it was about time I should start sucking in my tummy, because every girl wants a flat tummy!

There’s also one specifically special memory I have from spending a summer afternoon with Grandma Mary.

I was probably around the age of eight and given the very responsible task of helping Grandma Mary organize the numerous drawers in her pea green colored kitchen.

As I was stacking pencils, checking to see if pens still had ink by drawing circle after circle on pads of paper, and making piles of papers, I pulled out a black and white photo of a beautiful young woman in a striking dress.

As I held the photo in my hand, it felt precious, like a photo from a glossy magazine spread.

With complete seriousness, I questioned Grandma Mary about the photo. “Who is this pretty woman?”

Grandma Mary howled with laughter and looked at me with surprise. 

I didn’t think it was a funny question.
I just wanted to know who the pretty lady was with the really stylish dress.

Turns out, it was Grandma Mary.
Before she was a Grandma, or Mangra, or even a Mama.

I couldn’t believe my grandma once looked like that gorgeous lady. I guess it was the first time in my life that I really understood what it meant to “age” and grow older, not just taller with each passing year.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in Grandma Mary’s kitchen. 

Just us two girls. 
It was a rare moment, me having hoards of cousins, aunts and uncles.

It felt magical and mystical as she told me stories of her youth and explained all the photos in her keepsake drawer.

She even showed me the birth certificate of her babies, the ones that didn’t make it in this world.  The twins, the still birth.  I can still see those little baby feet in black ink that were pressed on the weathered page.

Looking back, I’m sure my grandmother was doing my mother and father a favor, helping watch over me on some summery afternoon while school was out.

In my little heart that day was precious.
Grandma Mary unveiled more than photos and papers, pretty dresses and funny stories. She handed me a thread to hold onto, a connection to a line of women who came before me.

If Grandma Mary were still with us, she would barely recognize the shape of my life, let alone make sense of the pace of it.

I kind of doubt she would get this whole “blog” thing, although she might follow People.com!

But, I do know:
She certainly would appreciate a day at the spa.

Happy Mother’s Day, Dear Grandma Mary.
Thank you for giving me my dad, the gift of gab, and the deep appreciation of a good dress.  

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