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A Tribute to my Grandma Ellen, August 12, 1920 – May 27, 2013

May 31, 2013

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A tribute to my Grandma Ellen, who passed away and went to join my Papa Pete on May 27, 2013; she would have been 93 on August 12th.

My head and heart are filled with thousands of memories. Some are vividly clear, others gently fade in and out, some are known by the whole family and others are known only to me; it is those which I cherish most….they are her gift to me.
If someone were to ask me to describe my Grandma there would be obvious answers such as, she was short, strong-willed, tough as nails for her small frame, had a fiery Italian personality, a tinge of blue to her always perfectly coiffed white hair, wore the same type of Keds-like tennis shoes, Cascade Blue jeans, burnt-orange nail polish, blue eyeshadow and Jean Naté perfume for as long as I can remember. Also, she drove her baby blue Mercury Cougar around town like a madwoman back in the day, called everyone, “Sweetie” and kept her yard (5 or so lawns, a creek and a vegetable garden), in perfect condition….always.
What might not be so obvious and would only be known by those who spent a great deal of time with her, are things such as how much she hated that baby blue Mercury Cougar and would encourage me to leave the doors unlocked so, ‘hopefully someone will steal it’ and then Grandpa would be forced to buy her a new car, or that she had a major crush on Ol’ Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra and would pop in an 8-track of him while speeding on straight-aways and careening around corners with her right foot on the gas and her left on the break. Or maybe that she loved her Carlo Rossi wine from a jug, her hi-ball glass filled with Miller High Life, watched countless crime and  game shows (The Price Is Right…she adored Bob Barker), loved dancing, decorating and shopping at flea markets. She was also an avid collector of teddy bears , dolls, and a million other things and had a cage of Mourning Doves in her backyard that will forevermore remind me of her when I hear their call.
Other notables are that she was a morning person, was fanatic about vacuuming (nice to know where I got it from), preferred Ivory Soap anywhere there was a sink and was famous for her lengthy, “yoooo hoooooo” as you walked into her house and equally so, for her extremely concise phone calls that left you feeling like you’d offended her somehow, but couldn’t for the life of you figure out why.
And still others which are much more of a personal nature, such as how when I was very young she’d blanket me in half a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder after my bath as she sang, “Smells like a Petuuuuuunia!”, or how every afternoon we’d lay on top of her bed covers for the nap she insisted we both needed, but which I argued I didn’t want until I’d pass out cold for the nap which I apparently needed, or how when we’d go clothes shopping she’d tell me how grown-up I looked….”You look like a college girl!”, she’d say.
These memories of mine are but a mere fraction of which made up my Grandma Ellen and though I’d always noticed similarities between she and I, it wasn’t until very recently that I realized how much like her I truly am, and especially now that she is gone, how truly grateful I feel for the time I got to spend with her.
Though I will miss her more than words can express and am deeply saddened that I wasn’t able to say goodbye in person, I haven’t any doubts that she is happy and at peace, tending to a million gardens, and walking hand-in-hand with my Grandpa as they look down, watching over me.
Grandma, this song is for you.
See you again one day.
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