Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rock of Ages

Sophie was in the NICU when I first noticed it. When she smiles she looks like my grandmother. (and she did smile as a newborn regardless of what the doctors might say and despite recovering from major surgery done on the day she was born)

My beautiful daughter has a blanket made of the palest pink satin, the same color and material of the prom dress that my Grandma Pat made for me. Grandma Pat's talents for sewing are legendary. She made all her girls' dresses including my Aunt Vicky's wedding gown. Mine was the last dress she made before her rheumatoid arthritis got to be too much. Her hands hurt even then, but she never once hesitated when I asked her to make me this dress.

I had a specific idea of what I wanted. To me it was the dress of a fairy tale princess and it had to be made with the palest pink satin. When I was very young girl I got to pick the paint color of the bedroom that my 2 younger sisters and I shared and this was the color I chose. It will always be the color that reminds me of fairy tales, princesses, innocence and childhood.

We could not find a dress pattern that fit the image I had in my mind, but that didn't slow Grandma Pat down. Together at the fabric store we selected the satin and lace. We discussed the shape of the sweetheart neckline, the peek-a-boo bows on the bottom that revealed the white and pink lace beneath and the bow on the back. We had many "fittings" in Grandma's kitchen until she got it just right. I remember Grandpa Merlin watching it all and teasing Grandma for once having a waist like mine. I laugh now at the idea that I thought I was fat back then. Oh how quickly time changes everything.

Prom was in the spring but by Christmas I hadn't yet thought of a good gift to thank her. I decided to buy her an evergreen wreath to hang on the front door. At the time I thought it was too small of a gesture compared to the amazing gift she had given me. It wasn't just the dress and that in it I really did feel like a princess, but it was the time we had spent together as she crafted it from nothing. However, the wreath became one of my most treasured traditions. Each year since then I have sent her a Christmas wreath to show her my love and thanks.

Grandma Pat went Home on May 5, 2006.

While I was growing up the family would get together at Grandma and Grandpa's, everyone would bring a bucket of KFC, and we'd all fight over the mashed potatoes and Grandma's cherry bars. We played cards in the kitchen/dining room. Usually we played 31 and you were lucky if you won the pot (not amounting to more than a few dollars as we usually played with nickels).

Those gatherings always centered around the kitchen/dining room and it is there that I remember her the most. She loved watching the birds in the back yard and had stained glass ornaments on the sliding glass door, including one of a bright red Cardinal. This spring we have had our own Cardinal that visits our back yard. He stops by once in a while and let me get a picture from our deck. When I see him I always think of Grandma Pat. I wonder if she sent him to let me know she looks in on us from time to time.

My Grandma Pat had a special love for babies and enjoyed holding all of her many grand and great grand children. When Alexander was still a little one and we were in town, we would stop by and she would hold him for a few moments before the pain got to be too bad.
I miss her. I miss her knowing smile. I miss listening to her hum. I miss seeing her give Grandpa "the look" when he knew he was in trouble, and he often was. She never had to say anything more than a stern "Grand-Pa!" to get her message across. Shortly after she passed I came across the Dolly Parton & Ricky Van Shelton song Rockin Years. I remember Grandma Pat perking up whenever this song played on the radio as she hummed along, keeping the beat with her hands. Though she never said so, it was clear that this song struck a chord in her. To me, it seemed the perfect theme song for a love as great as theirs.

"I'll do everything thing I can to make you proud to be my man, and I'll fulfill all your fantasies, I guess we're promisin a lot, but for now its all we've got, and I'll stand by you through our rockin years. Rockin chairs, rockin babies, rock-a-bye, rock of ages. Side-by-side we'll be together always. And if you hold me tight when you love me, that's all I'll ask of you, and I'll stand by you through our rockin years."

Pale pink satin, the deep red feathers of a Cardinal, a deck of cards, countless old Country songs, sending Grandpa a wreath at Christmas and my daughter's smile are just a few of the things that promise to keep Grandma close by.


amy flege said...

what a beautiful story... thanks for sharing it!

JRS said...

Hi Amy,
Thanks for reading!

Hollie said...

You made me cry. I miss her!!!! Thanks for bringing back so many wonderful memories. I love you!