Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Cat's Pajamas

On this day I celebrate the birth of one of the the most original ladies that ever was.
Happy Birthday Grammie.

I confess that since she passed last December I've written 3 posts about her, none of which I published. They were therapeutic in the their conception as I cranked them out over the past 4 months and I'm not even sure they were meant for anyone else. At least not yet. They chronicle the events leading up to her passing, her final breath, and the days that followed. I'm thankful to have written it down for there were some things that I'd already forgotten until I just reread them them. So thanks me.

There are also those things which I will never forget, no matter how much time passes. Daily reminders, mannerisms I have, or things that my mom or sister say... No need to write them down except for the sake of sharing, for they are forever ingrained in my memory and all around me. These things that shape who I am, how I think, and, when I least expect it, things I say.

I recently received some boxes of her kitchen linens. As soon as I peeled back the tape - WHOOSH! There she was. Her smell was suddenly all around me. And just as suddenly there I was, standing in her kitchen while paralyzed in my own. I was absolutely not expecting that. So, I did what any rational thinking person would do - I swiped away my tears and went for the Ziplocks. I carefully placed and shoved every one of those linens into the bags and sealed them tight. Save them for another day. Her cookbooks, so well-worn and well-loved, every time I flip through them I get another whiff of the 521 Vernet St. In case you're wondering , I didn't seal the cookbooks. I display them proudly on my counter and flip through them as often as possible, embracing the smells, the notes in the margins, and the recipes and notes dating back to the 40's.

Grammie. Punkie. Pat. Mrs. Lohmar. Mom. Anyone who walked through her kitchen door got fed, no matter who they were or what they wanted. And if you were lucky you left with a tin of cookies - or 2. There was always music in the background, whether it was Chumbawamba's Tub Thumping or Patsy Cline, the woman loved her tunes. She always said what she thought, was convinced that baked goods cured all, and had an amazing wit. She was a fan of soaps and romance novels - not the Harlequins, she was better than that. Her kitties were her babies and and it was always beer thirty - somewhere. She loved to give gifts and she loved to cook. The love that she could not express with words was expressed through all of these things, making her Grammie. Punkie. Pat. Mrs. Lohmar. Mom.

She instilled in me the importance of humor, exercise, family, reading, flowers in bud vases, beer in the back yard, recipes, using 'good' shampoos and conditioners, donating blood and slowing down for speed traps. Get to know your neighbors, your mail man, your air conditioner repairman and the kind folks at the bakery and deli counters. They can be your best friends.
Before she passed my mom asked her what she'd like to be 'viewed' in. Grammie called it her 'regalia'. For her last 10 years at least she was a shorts, jeans, or pajama wearing lady so the thought of being donned in a dress and pearls did not sit well with her. Jokingly my mom said that she should just wear her cat pajamas and in true Grammie fashion she loved the idea. So that's exactly what she did.

No amount of preparation could have ever prepared me for my last good-bye. Every once in a while I feel like the wind's been knocked out of me and I stumble a little. So many reminders, I'm forever surrounded. Forever affected. Forever influenced and inspired.
She truly was, the cat's pajamas.


Eric said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this. My grandma, who I called "Dammy", passed away almost 20 years ago, and I still miss her.

Anonymous said...

Here's to Grammie and all our beloved grandmas. Love you. Ho