Someone you should know about

I have a pretty fabulous grandmother.

She’s a member of the Red Hat Society and she plays a mean game of chicken foot dominoes.

She never fails to pat me affectionately on my tush when I leave her house, saying, “Drive defensively,” always just shy, I suspect, of adding “young lady.”

She took me at five years old to get a portrait taken of me in the same dress that her mother had worn in a portrait at five years old. Randomly, the studio ended up choosing my portrait to blow up as a ginormous window display. And wouldn’t you know she bought it and hung it in her house, where it still is today. (A great visual prop when explaining to people that I am, in fact, the favorite grandchild.)

She taught me how to juggle scarves, and she once told me the story of how she was pinched on the butt by a local while on a trip to Italy, which is a visual I like to conjure up any time I’m having a bad day. It brightens my mood considerably.

Her house has always had a distinctive smell for me: a mix of coffee, my granddad’s pipe, and her many orchids, African violets and other aromas I’m sure I will never be able to name but will always recognize. And her voice is the perfect blend of feminine and deep, creating a smooth calm velvety sound that I could listen to forever.

She has done many important, interesting and cool things in her life, including raising my dad and his brother, which if you ask me had to be hands down the hardest thing she ever did.

She has always made me feel like I was great – delightful even. The best example is the one that has become our legacy: after a trip to the zoo at age 3, I saw giraffes for the first time in my short life, and was quite enamored with them. I reported back to her with glee, “We saw the giraffes in the sky with their necks!” This tickled her enough that she then proceeded to send me a giraffe in one form or another for many years after that, until one day I said to my mom, “You know, I don’t even really like giraffes. I kind of wish she’d quit already.” But instead of politely dropping into conversation that I had new interests now twelve years later, I decided just to start sending her giraffes as well. And so it became our “thing.” A thing that I have now continued with the Bug, favoring giraffes on shirts and prints for the walls and for stuffed animals.

Because I’ll be damned if now I don’t love those spindly-legged, long necked, spotty creatures, if only because every time I see one, I think of her.

And next year, I’m really glad that we’ll get to share milestone birthdays: my 30 to her 80. Because although I do sometimes freak out over the fact that I now own several products with the word “age” on the label, I know that I don’t have to look far to feel better about the situation. After all, I come from the same stock as a person who has aged with grace, beauty, humor, and wisdom.

Happy birthday, and many more, Grandmother.

5 comments

1 Joe T. { 10.07.07 at 1:01 pm }

What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman! “Hands down the hardest thing she ever did,” huh? Well, maybe so. 80 and 30 are amazing milestones, especially to the one in the middle of the two.

2 Rachel D { 10.07.07 at 1:48 pm }

I’ll never forget that road trip to TN and meeting your grandparents. Particularly how welcome they made us feel and what truly nice people they are. Happy Birthday Racher’s Grandmother!

3 Rebekah { 10.07.07 at 2:46 pm }

this is great. hope your grandmother gets to read it.

4 Allen G. { 10.08.07 at 3:54 pm }

I loved every bit of this blog till the picture when your shirt sent me into a seizure……

5 Rachael { 02.25.10 at 8:38 pm }

OMG I just discovered your blog and as soon as I got to the words “chicken foot” I became a lifetime reader. My parents taught me that game, we always played it at our cabin, and now that I have my own little one, as soon as he’s in bed I am running around getting out dominoes (quietly) yelling, Chicken foot! Chicken foot! :)

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