Gramma´s Words of Wisdom
Patricia Palmer Hurd
My grandmother was my anchor, my mentor, my safe shelter in a storm.
Everything important in my life, all of the things I enjoy the most: reading, baking, gardening, singing, dancing, makeup, jewelry, satiny lacy lingerie, throwing my head back and laughing with reckless abandon, all of these things came from her.
As a child, I spent every weekend at Gramma’s house. She would wrap one of her prettiest aprons around me, tie it in a big bow in the back, and we would roll up our sleeves and “get to work” as she said. She had the patience of a saint, calmly teaching me how to crack an egg in a bowl and not spill any on the counter, to level off flour with a knife, to insert a clean broomstick into the finished product to make sure it was cooked properly. But the fun didn’t stop here. Far from it!
After dinner, Gramma would fill the tub with lots and lots of warm water and soapy bubbles. While I was splashing around, happy at play, Gram would be singing away, completely off-key at the top of her lungs. Gramma knew plenty of fun songs, for she had been a flapper in the Roaring Twenties. Her stories of how she fixed her hair, rouged her cheeks, threw on her long string of pearls and danced the night away thrilled me every time. After my bath, Gramma would wrap me up in a warm thick towel and, after drying me off thoroughly, take out her expensive canister of powder, and gingerly dip the big fluffy powder puff inside and poof, I would smell like a million dollars!
We then went downstairs, where Gramma would open up her Victrola and play one song after the other, taking me in her arms and dancing me all over the dining room, my long blond hair flying in the breeze. About a half hour before bedtime, Gramma would have me curl up next to her on the couch, and she would read me a bedtime story, then gently carry me up the stairs and tuck me in her giant featherbed in the room next to hers.
The next morning I would awaken to the most delightful smells, and run downstairs to find my Grandmother’s best blue willow dishes set out with fresh flowers from her garden by my place setting, and would dine on a breakfast fit for a princess.
I have many wonderful memories of times spent with my Grandmother, but one in particular stands out in my mind.
When I was ten years old, my Grandmother told me that she and I were going on a bus trip to see our relatives in Rochester, N.Y. Was it farther than our usual bus trips that we took downtown to go shopping I wondered? Gramma explained that this was a BIG bus trip; it would take 3 hours, and we would see delightful things outside the bus window the entire way.
I could hardly sleep the next two weeks anticipating our big bus trip. Gramma told me that we should wear our best dresses, for we would be two fine ladies traveling, and a lady always wants to look her best. I chose my favorite dress. It was white with little pink roses on it, and had a big pink sash that tied in the back. I decided to pretend that my white patent leather mary-jane´s were high heels, and practiced walking as a lady in them every night before I went to sleep.
Finally the day we were to travel arrived! Gramma came over to pick me up, and the sight of her took my breath away. She had on a light blue dress with a white collar, black high heels and a black purse, and her pearl necklace and matching earrings. She looked exactly like the ladies I saw on television, and when I told her that she smiled and hugged me tight.
I held onto Gramma’s hand tightly as we approached the bus. We handed the nice man our suitcases to store underneath; mine was bright pink with a ballerina on top. I had gotten it from Santa that Christmas.
I had never done anything so amazing before! I felt like a world traveler, peering out the window. There were cows, and rolling hills, and big barns and farms and ponds full of ducks. Gramma took out a little basket and handed me a napkin that she opened and spread carefully over my dress, and handed me a chicken sandwich. We also had chocolate chip cookies she had baked the night before and a little glass jar of homemade iced tea. I felt myself slowly drifting off into a comfortable sleep after lunch, resting my head on Gramma´s arm.
I felt a soft nudge as Gramma gently woke me to look outside. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Big, big buildings, and streets with houses twice the size of ours back home. I couldn’t find one barn or cow. And the flowers! Every house had the most beautiful flowers in their yard. I decided I liked Rochester.
Gramma took my hand, and we got off the bus and claimed our bags from the bus driver. Just as we were walking away, the unthinkable happened. The elastic band of Gramma’s slip must have broken, and I looked up at her in horror as her white satin lace trimmed slip lay around her ankles! I froze for a second, but true to form, Gramma knew just what to do. She took my hand, took in a deep breath, and delicately lifted one, then both feet out of her slip, left it lying on the ground where it had fallen, and started walking away as if nothing had happened! She smiled down at me and said, "Angel, there will be many times in life that things will try to slow you down. Just hold your head up high, keep walking, and don’t look back."
These wise and wonderful words from Gramma have seen me through many difficult and trying times in my life. My beloved Grandmother passed away 20 years ago this year, and every time I bake, or sing, or dance, or sit and cuddle and read to my precious granddaughters, I smile. Her legacy lives on.