Monday, 20 December 2010

My Grandma Geri

Geraldine Elizabeth Hayes – 10 Aug 1935-2 Jan 1995
I’m sentimental this week, I guess. I’ve found myself thinking of relatives who have passed and things I remember about them; things that made them special to me. Who knows, maybe it’s the flea market trip or related to the crying spells I’ve had lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so down and remembering the way she pampered me is comforting. I really don’t know. All the same, I remember.
What a funny lady she was. As a child I loved to stay at her house. She let me do all the things little girls love to do. Each time I spent the night with her there was a routine. Just before bedtime was a bubble bath. She had an endless supply of that Avon pink bubble bath and I was allowed to use as much as I liked. I would soak and play in the tub and sometimes she would come in and wash my hair. When I was done I was usually given one of her nightgowns. She had the best nightgowns; they were soft and pretty and smelled like downy fabric softener.

Usually, while waiting for my hair to dry, we would sit in the living room and play cards at the coffee table. She cheated. Really, she did. The rules constantly changed and she always won. I knew what she was up to but would never have said so.
I also remember watching The Young and the Restless with her during the day, the time she danced on the back of the couch and nearly killed me when I brought a little garden snake into the house to show her, sitting outside and snapping green beans and hulling peas, and bacon, eggs and homemade biscuits for breakfast every morning. I remember she let me drink coffee too.
We didn’t have much contact towards the end of her life. The last time I saw her alive broke my heart. Always a stocky and heavyset woman she couldn’t have weighed much more than 100 lbs that last time I had contact with her. Her body damaged by a stroke, she seemed to have lost the vitality that always drew me to her.
She’s thought of often. I have a beautiful cast iron chicken fryer that belonged to her. I’ve mentioned it before. It’s coated in lovely turquoise enamel on the outside. It’s my prize kitchen possession and I use it a lot. It’s not just for frying chicken.
I also have her mother’s ring. When I visited with my Aunt Kathy a while back she got it out and gave it to me. I found myself in one of those rare misty eyed moments then. It is so nice to have something that was special to her. I don’t wear it every day but, when I feel like I need a little luck or an extra someone to watch over me, I wear it.
I think, on many levels, Aunt Kathy and I understood each other. She was the only daughter and for many years I would be the only granddaughter. Anyone who knew my Grandma  Geri knew how much she loved little girls.
Grandma Geri was a red head and had the personality to go with it. She was outspoken and loud. She told the best stories for curious little minds such as mine. Yet, for all the things harsh about her, she had a softness that I always felt like she reserved just for me.
In spite of any complaint someone might have had about her, in spite of the mistakes that separated us later in her life and in spite of what anyone else might have thought, I loved her and she was mine and to this day she still makes me smile.

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