My grandma always had a needlepoint on the wall in her house that said, "Avenge yourself. Live long enough to be a problem to your children." Her children thought it was funny.
My grandma is 92.
I was a child of the eighties, and my mom was a working mom. During the summers, we would get shipped off to grandma's house. I know, feel sorry for me. Only don't.
My grandma taught me to knit. She was up before dawn every morning with her cup of coffee that she only drank from a china mug. She taught me to needlepoint, but refused to teach me to crochet (still bitter, taught myself. Pbbbbt, Gram.) She had a yarn closet built in her last house. She had little knitting projects at different stages of finished all over the house. Even on the back of the toilet. And she would only finish a sweater in the early morning, sitting by a sunny window.
She is left handed, and she takes such pride that she has one son, one grandson and two great-grandsons who are left handed. Both of those great-grandsons are mine. I always loved to watch her sign her name - she did it with such flair, and it was so pretty when she was finished.
We spent our summers going to the library, reading, playing cards, watching game shows in the morning and going to the beach in the afternoon. It's where I learned what the perfect summer felt like. And Gram always said, "It never rains at the beach." And she was right. I can still smell the freshly laundered towels from the Mauna Kea, where we swam.
The sound of golf cleats on pavement makes me think of her, as we would meet her at the pro shop after she'd golfed and my sisters and I had played either at the beach or at the pool. Her name is up on the wall at Mauna Kea, because that lady got a hole in one, which I've always thought was so cool. And at the pro shop, she would let us order iced tea, from a real glass and it always came with a slice of pineapple in it.
Once her dryer broke when we were visiting and we spent a lot of time playing cards at the laundromat. That's where I learned to make lemonade out of lemons. And once the cows got out near her house and got in her yard and she chased them with a rake.
She only made cookies in grand style. She would make four different kinds of cookies at a time of all her best recipes. She'd fill up those cookie jars, and we'd all try opening and closing them without making a sound. But she always knew. Always.
It didn't occur to me when I was younger, but she had to be extraordinary, because not only has she had a child or two of hers living in her house or next door as long as I can remember, but their spouses, too. And if you can live with or next door to your mother in law, you've got to be a pretty good mother-in-law. Which, if you're a good mother-in-law, you're extraordinary.
Oh, and my mom named our cat after her. And they are still on speaking terms. Extraordinary, I say.
She would come visit us and after my dad would get home from work, she would get a grin on her face and say to him, "Have a beer with me, Terry?" And so they would. When I was a kid, the only time my dad would have a beer was when my Grandma came to visit. And I think they both kind of liked it.
I have her feet. So does my daughter.
She always drove a little zippy car. And sometimes she would just get exasperated with her cars, because they always went too fast. It wasn't her lead foot, oh, no, it was the car.
When I came to visit, she always made sure that she had Kona Coffee ice cream in the freezer, just because she knew it was my favorite.
My mom said tonight that she says that the only thing about dying that makes her mad is that all her favorite people will be there and she's going to miss the party. Extraordinary.