Monday, April 23, 2007

Amazingly, I'm not going to mention the "D" word

Question #2: what was the most significant event in your childhood?

Again, not mentioning the "d" word, though that was pretty fireplacing significant. But it was so significant and happened so early that there's no way I can cover it here. My whole life would be different. I'd have half the family I do now. I can't even imagine it.

Instead, I'm going to talk about Grandma Sylvia. Did I ever tell you about my Grandma Sylvia? My step-mother's mother (I wouldn't have known her if not for the "d" word!)

She had beautiful long silver hair that she kept up in a bun. She taught me to play "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" on her piano. She baked the most wonderful chocolate cakes. She taught me to braid hair and let me do hers. I loved staying with her in her little house in New Jersey. I would eat windmill cookies and drink weak tea in her kitchen. My cousin and I would white wash her basement (such fun!). I would cozy up in her recliner. She was so playful and charming and fun to be with.

One weekend...near my birthday...she and I were staying at her sister's (Aunt SoLittleAndCute) apartment as a special birthday treat. I went next door to the neighbor's apartment to practice the piano. When I came back, Grandma Sylvia was sitting stiffly on the couch. Unconscious. Aunt SoLittleAndCute had just finished calling the ambulance. Grandma had had a stroke. A neighbor came and sat with me while Aunt SoLittleAndCute went to the hospital with Grandma. I remember spending some time in the waiting room with my step-mother (Grandma was her mother) and my father. I never saw my grandma again. She died a few days later. It was the first time I'd ever seen someone so close to death. The first time death really touched me, though my grandma Hilda (of the bosoms) and my Grandpa Jack (step-mother's father) both had died a few years before I wasn't as close to them and, also, I was younger and didn't really get it. For years my memory was that she had died that day, that very day, it was only later that I really remembered that she hadn't.

I still miss her.


Yankee T said...

I love this!

Mummy/Crit said...

That is an incredible story Liz. Scary, but good.

ccw said...

A beautiful post!

This reminds me so much of my great aunt who died when I was 5-ish. Oh, how I loved spending time with her. My mom and I were the ones who found her, called the ambulance, and rushed to the hopsital.

I am happy now that as an adult I can remember the good times more than the scary last moments together.

allison said...

That was a lovely memory. Thank you for sharing it.

allison said...

Okay, as soon as I hit publish, I realized that not all the memory was lovely, but I thought your descriptions of the times you spent with your Grandma Sylvia were so clear and special that I focused on that. Obviously,attached to those memories is her unexpected death and that is not so lovely. But I am still glad to have shared in your memory, both the good and the sad.

susan said...

what a sweet (sometimes bittersweet) story.

-R- said...

She sounds like she was a wonderful person and fun grandmother.

Magpie said...

"Pretty fireplacing significant" is a great turn of phrase. Sylvia souds like she was wonderful - thanks for sharing her.