Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Mommy and Daddy are Getting Married

Most kids born in the early 70's did not get to attend their parents wedding.  Sure, some kids got to go to a wedding of one of their parents remarrying after divorce, but I am talking going to your biological parents wedding.  I did.  Well, sort of.  So my parents got married in 1969- the summer of love.  They moved to Columbus for my dad to attend Pharmacy school at Ohio State.  He graduated in 1972.  I attended the graduation ceremony in my mother's womb and arrived on the scene a few months later.  About 2-1/2 years later my brother was born. After a few moves we had settled into a nice neighborhood on 16th Street in Cuyahoga Falls.  I don't remember much about our time there because I was so young, but I do remember my parents telling me that they were getting divorced when I was 6 or 7.  I didn't really know what that meant so I don't think it really upset me that much.  If it did I don't remember.  I don't remember any drama.  I don't remember any fighting.  I really only remember 3 things.  1.  My dad made my brother and I bunk beds to sleep in when we went to his house.  2.  My dad let us get the good cereal when we went to stay- Count Chocula or Lucky Charms usually.  3.  One time we were supposed to go to Geauga Lake with him when we were at his house.  He told us we had to stop and pick up a surprise before we left.  We were really anxious to get there so we really just wanted him to hurry up, but what a surprise when he pulled in to our duplex where we lived with mom.  Mom was going with us- that was our surprise. Shortly after Mom and Dad were back together.  I honestly cannot even tell you how long they were apart, but I don't think it was even a year.  They weren't divorced long enough for Graham or I to blame any of our personality flaws on the divorce.  We have to come up with other excuses for those.  The funniest part is the day they got remarried at the courthouse I was in 2nd Grade at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School.  I turned in a note that I needed to leave early for an appointment.  The nun asked me what the appointment was.  I said "my mommy and daddy are getting married today".  Sister said with a bit of shock- "O- you mean your mommy or daddy is getting remarried today?"  I said "no- my real mommy and daddy".  I think she said " Reeeaaaalllly????"  I was really excited because I got a pretty dress and got to carry a bouquet.  I didn't have many older girl relatives so I had never been a flower girl.  All our family and friends came for a party. I love weddings and parties.  I was really lucky to get to go to my parents wedding.

I don't know why they got divorced and honestly I don't really care.  I imagine they were going through what all people go through several times in their life. Wondering why you are where you are, wondering if you made the right decisions and trying to figure out if you are on the right path.  Sometimes we think we know the answers and make a change.  Sometimes that change is for the better.  Sometimes it is not.  I think it takes some really brave loving people to know that they made a mistake, admit it to each other and everyone else and go back and fix it.  I am really glad they did.   
Me in utero

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sarah Makes Me Smile

I honestly don't remember it because I was 4 and she was 3, but this is how I imagine it.  A cute little 3 year old strawberry blond girl named Sarah is playing quietly in her yard.  A cute little 4 year old brunette girl named Megan (pre H)  sees her down the street and decides she looks like much more fun to play with than her little brother so she goes up to her and asks "Do you want to be my friend?"  The little blond girl has impeccable manners and is always very polite so she says ok.  The lifelong friendship begins.  Sarah (always had an H) has been my friend since before I can remember and I have so many memories that they just all get jumbled up together.  When you are a kid you are really at the mercy of your parents on who your friends are.  If your parents don't get along with their parents the friendship is essentially doomed.  Luckily our parents got along great so we got to spend so much time together.  I remember going to the Sphar's for dinner and Sarah and I pretending to be asleep so my parents would just leave me there to spend the night.  I am pretty sure they weren't fooled, but I did get to spend the night often.  We would play dolls in her room.  I had a Jenny doll with brown hair.  She had a Mandy doll with blond hair of course.  We would play Barbies in her basement.  We would also do anything we could to torture Graham or get him in trouble.  We would go to Cedar Point and Sea World together.  We would ride our bikes all over the place.  Sarah was with me for a pivotal moment in my childhood.  A moment that a girl really needs a true friend by her side. The moment she receives her first Michael Jackson album.  Off the Wall.  You need a friend with you to truly admire those glow in the dark socks.  Mrs. Sphar- Kay as I am supposed to call her now but still have a hard time doing- made me a nightgown.  It was pink and the words "I Love Teddy" were all over the fabric.  She made a matching nightgown for my Jenny doll and a shirt for Theodore, my teddy bear. I found mine the other day at my mom's and Theodore has never taken his off.

As we grew older our interests went in different ways so we didn't spend as much time together but I can say that I always had a true friend in Sarah.  I don't think I was always a good friend to Sarah- middle and high school drama.  The fact that she still considers me a friend is testament to what a great person she is.  I guess what I am saying is that generally my memories of my childhood are happy, and I owe some of that happiness to Sarah.  Our parents were and still are very good friends.  My mom always says "the kind of friends that you just pick up where you left off even if you don't see each other for a few years.

Sarah is getting married in a few days.  I haven't met her fiance, but I have been assured that he is wonderful man.  Her wedding is in Ireland so I will not be attending, but I am planning on going to the stateside reception in October.  So- to Ivan I say- you've got a wonderful woman there but I suspect you already know that.  I am sure she will give you as many happy memories that she gave me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Asheville- aka The Perfect Place

The older that Grandma got the more, how shall I say this, the bitchier the grumpier she got. As I am growing older and my body is not acting the same- hurts more, doesn't work as well, seems to be gravitating downward- I understand why people get grumpier in old age.  Especially those who were very full of life and fiercely independent.  It had to suck for my grandmother to not be able to walk normally or not use an arm that was debilitated from a stroke.  It had to suck to rely on others to do things for you that you could do before.  Let's just say she sometimes went way a little too far.  When I was pregnant with Liam and she was seeing me for the first time she said "You're Fat".  It was sometimes hard to take her in public because you never knew what she was going to say.  I remember taking her to the Museum of Art in Cleveland and as I pushed her past the more modern art work she would say in her best stage whisper- "This is crap" or just "Shit".  One time at breakfast at a restaurant with my uncle she sent her pancakes back to the kitchen (quite dramatically) because the pancakes weren't round.  Who would dare serve her this shit.  Sons of bitches.  Even though we all complained about it to each other we just came to expect it and we all just dealt with it because she was our Grandmother/Mother.  She would remind us from time to time that she wiped all of our asses when we were babies you know.

Once a year for three consecutive years I got to see a different side of Grandma.  After Grandpa died Grandma went on a Frank Lloyd Wright kick.  EVERYTHING was in the style of or a replica of Frank Lloyd Wright.  She had read about the Grove Park Inn and how it was decorated in the Arts & Craft style which was popular during Mr. Wright's time.  She also read that F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed there while Zelda was spending time in the nearby sanitarium.  She asked me if I wanted to go stay there with her and of course I said yes.  She was staying with m
y parents for the winter and insisted that her Cadillac be brought down to chauffeur her around.   So I picked her up and I drove the Caddy over the mountain to Asheville.  I am pretty sure as we crossed the peak at Sam's Gap the skies opened, a rainbow and the sun appeared and there was a beautiful AAAAAHHHHHH that came down from the clouds.  Instantly everything was perfect.  I could have been gray and raining and she would have said the weather was perfect.  We pulled up to the hotel.  We had called ahead from home (before cell phones) to let them know we would need a wheelchair.  I swear to God they must have calculated how long it would take us to get there because there stood the bellman with her wheelchair waiting.  They rolled her to the desk so we could check in.  The bellman took our bags up and she instructed the other bellman to take her "TO THE BAR!"  She ordered her Johnnie Walker Red and just took everything in.  We had dinner at the hotel.  I thought it was actually pretty bad, but Grandma couldn't quit talking about how wonderful it was.  I just went with it.  Not gonna ruin a good thing. She loved everything about the hotel.  We went to all the floors and looked at all the pictures.  We frequented the lobby(bar).  She insisted that I go swimming ( I really don't like to swim that much) but once again, just went with it.  The next couple of days we went downtown to the antique shops and Biltmore Village.  She was a delight.  The shopkeepers and restaurateurs loved her.  How wonderful it was that she got to take her granddaughter on a trip like this.  What a sweet little old lady she was.  And she really was.  I don't remember for sure, but I don't think she said Shit once.  When she asked me if I wanted to go again the next year of course I said yes.  And you know what- It was perfect again. I think for Grandma when we went to Asheville for a few short days she was able to remember what it was to be young again and that let her forget some of her troubles.  I am pretty sure that her corner of heaven is decorated in the Arts and Crafts style with a gorgeous lobby with big stone fireplaces and plenty of Johnnie Walker Red.

Here are some pictures of one of our trips.  Grandma was a horrible photographer and her 110 Camera did not help, but I don't care.  I think they are perfect.  Pictures are the backside of the inn, some of the Arts and Craft furniture in our room, Grandma on the GPI veranda with her JWR, and a picture she took of me in the bar.  (Yes I had a perm- no comments please)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Grove is Coming Up

When I was a kid we would often visit the cemetery.  The cemetery near my house was very pretty and had a pond where we would ride our bikes and feed the ducks.  We would bring paper and crayons and do rubbings and  then we would go across the street to Babb Run park and get into all sorts of trouble.  We would swing on vines and climb on rocks in the water all by ourselves.  Today you would probably go to jail if you let your kids run around like we did, but this story is not about that cemetery. 

In Lorain there are two cemeteries across the street from each other.  I am not sure, but I think one is for Catholics and one is for everybody else.  Almost everyone from my family who has passed is buried in one of these two cemeteries.  When I was a kid if we were out for a drive on that side of town we would cruise through and say hi to all the relatives.  I hadn't met most of them, but a visit would mean I would get a story about them.  My mom's family was all Catholic so they were buried on one side of the street.  My paternal grandmother's family was Catholic so they were all over there with them.  My paternal grandfather was not Catholic.  Not a big deal in today's world, but such a big deal then that my grandparents had to elope.  This also meant they were buried on the other side of the street.  Where they were going to be buried was a REALLY big deal to my grandmother.  My grandfather bought their plots for their 40th wedding anniversary.  (On the 41st anniversary he told my grandmother he wasn't getting her a present because she didn't use what he got her the previous year.)  The plots were carefully chosen so they would be up on a slight hill (or at least a hill by Northeast Ohio standards).  The plan was for them to be buried so they could each look at their parents and other family members during their eternal rest.  Grandma would have to look a little further, but since she had the cataract surgery she would be able to see them.    

 I think Grandpa could have cared less about where he was buried.  He always said he wished he was Jewish.  He wanted to be in the ground within 24 hours and not be embalmed.  He didn't want the ceremony and the wake.  He was in poor health for many years so I think he had come to terms with his mortality.  But sometimes things don't happen the way that you want.  My grandfather died a few hours after arriving at our house in Tennessee.  Being 3 states away from your final resting place causes some logistical issues.  You can't cross state lines unless you are embalmed and being that far away meant the 24 hours was out of the question as well.  We finally got him to Ohio and because things weren't going as planned anyway we went ahead and had the funeral ceremony.  At the cemetery Grandma kept saying this is the wrong grave and everybody just thought she suffering from grief, but she wouldn't let it go.  She would have someone take her to the cemetery and would say I know this is the wrong grave.  She finally found the paperwork and a few phone calls later found out that the cemetery had double sold the plots to my grandparents and to Mr. and Mrs. Grove.  When the error was discovered she announced victoriously "GROVE IS COMING UP!!!" and the scary thing is she was serious.  She paid for those carefully selected plots and by god she was going to have them.  After much negotiation and reasoning my dad and uncle were able to convince her to take the settlement and let poor Mr. Grove rest in peace.   

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Road Trip

The day after tomorrow I am making the trip. The trip I have made so many times I have lost count.  Bristol TN/VA to Lorain, Ohio.  We moved from Cuyahoga Falls in January of 1988.  It is now 2014. 26 years, probably 4 trips a year on average, yep. Over 100 times.  People always say oh it must be a nice drive through the mountains. Or 7-1/2 hours, that is really not too long.  Those people haven't done the same drive for 7-1/2 hours over 100 times.   In high school I had exactly enough Smiths on cassette to listen to my Walkman the whole way.   Now my playlist is a little more varied, but still has Morrissey serenading me. I have had many road trip companions over the years.  My family of course.  My high school friends to go to concerts in Cleveland.  Rachel and I to see INXS at Blossom.  I will never forget stopping at Biscuit World in the middle of the night with my dad, Sharon, Priscilla and Shannon to go see the Rolling Stones.  My kids, my husband, my grandmothers.  Sure each trip was/is different but generally different is not a good thing.  There was the time the van broke down in Sharon, WV.  There were multiple traffic jams due to construction, accidents or holiday traffic.  I have done the trip in one day and in two days.  Sometimes the two days were planned.   One of my favorites is when Will and I left work to drive part way for our Christmas together with my family.  We had just gotten engaged and sat up in the hotel talking about how we would tell my parents and the boys and planning our future.  Sometimes the two days were not planned.  Christmas blizzard forcing us to stop in nowhere southern Ohio.  There are a few things that are always the same though.  We drive for about an hour on I-81 to get to I-77. On 77 you go through 2 tunnels , 3 toll booths, 2 big bridges and "the football bridge".  Then you get to the Turnpike and you are almost there.   We all look for these landmarks to gage the time.  I will hear somebody from the backseat yell was that second or third tollbooth.   I can tell you which restaurants are at all the exits.  Want Bob Evans?  Stop at Macorkle Ave in Charleston, WV ( approx 3 hours from home) or Ripley or Parkersburg. The one in Marietta is really not that good.  Make sure you  have everything you need before you leave Marietta because it is the deadlands until you get to Cambridge.   Knock on wood I haven't had too many speeding tickets and we have always arrived safely.  I am expecting this week's trip to be uneventful as well.  The trip has gotten much easier since they put DVD players in cars.  And right now all three kids love Frozen so if you see a Toyota Sienna driving up 77 on Thursday with the lady driving singing Do You Want to Build a Snowman at the top of her lungs it is just me.  Honk and wave!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Antique Shows

I am not sure when my grandmother starting selling antiques, but it was before I was born.  As you can see from the picture I was a member of her support staff from an early age.  Grandma didn't have a shop.  She would go to Antique Shows and would also do estate sales.  Doing a show with Grandma was an adventure.  First she would determine which inventory she thought she could move at the particular show.  She knew she wouldn't be able to get as much money for certain types of glass in certain areas and she also knew what would move best at the show where she was going .  Next, the van would get loaded with the boxes.  The boxes were old poultry boxes.  They were wax covered cardboard.  I didn't realize until I was much older that the boxes actually used to have frozen chickens in them.  Gross.  To make it even better all the glass was wrapped in blue adult diapers.  They were blue plastic on one side and many had been used so many times that the filling balled up in between the layers.  Once again, I did not know these "wraps" had another purpose besides keeping my grandmothers glass safe.  When I found out what they were I was completely freaked out.  First of all the fact that an adult would have to wear a diaper blew my adolescent mind and second that I had handled so many of them.  The boxes were unloaded onto a display that my grandfather developed and built.  The display had three shelves and was covered in alternating blue and white fabric.  The official colors of Heisey Glass.  You couldn't just put things on the shelves, there was an order.  Grandma knew what needed to be where and next to what to catch a potential buyers eye.  Everything had more than one price.  The price that was on it, the price she would sell it to you if you haggled a little with her and the price she would sell it to a dealer.  I can still here Grandma haggling with somebody and saying, well you know I am a dealer.  What is your dealer price?

Working the show was really not very exciting for a kid.  Most of these shows were in high school gymnasiums or convention centers.  We would hit the snack bar and walk around and look at the other antiques.  Grandma was pretty picky about the booths where we could shop.  We would often slowly walk by and hear her mumble "Crap".  We couldn't go in there.  We would walk past another booth and hear her mumble "Asshole".  That guy didn't offer dealer discounts so we couldn't go in there.  Then we would come across one of her buddies and we would be stuck in there forever just shooting the breeze and maybe buying something that she would wrap up, take home, inventory and try and sell at the next show.  In our booth, we were allowed to help wrap purchases.  To this day it pains me to see somebody wrap up something the wrong way.  You had to maximize your diaper and get as much into it as possible. ( I followed this same principle with my children by the way).  Once we reached an age that we could calculate sales tax we were allowed to write the receipts and take the money.  I would sit at the money box and have peoples tickets written up with tax calculated before they could even change their mind.  There were no returns accepted.  I have to say that I think my grandmother was a fair business woman.  I don't think she tried to get more than her glass was really worth.  I honestly don't know if she actually made any money selling glass or not.  I have heard it said that she showed a "loss" every year after she took out her "expenses".  Yes- Johnnie Walker Red was an expense.

At the end of the show Grandma would let me pick out a piece of glass to add to my collection. I still display those little pieces of glass with pride.  They are my first paycheck!

Friday, August 8, 2014

All Skate

People that did not grow up in the '80's cannot possibly imagine the importance of the roller skating rink and the impact that it had on my childhood.  I grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.  Not really famous for much except Rex Humbard, but all in all a nice place to live.  We were really lucky, we had access to two roller skating rinks.  Skate 8, the family friendly small rink on State Route  8 and the infinitely cooler Rocky's which I think was in Akron somewhere.  My family frequented Skate 8. Especially on Wednesday nights. Family Night.  We would load up the family in the station, rent our skates and roll around for hours.  Shoot the duck, backwards skate and everyone's favorite, the Limbo.  We would gaze in awe at the girls who had their own skates with the Pom Poms on them.  We would take a break to play a video game and watch our parents skate when they turned down the lights for the couple skate.  I was in pre-adolescent heaven with my feathered hair and Calvin Kleins with my comb in my back pocket.  I got my first bra on a Wednesday.  I know this because I was so excited that I got to wear it to skate that night.  I just knew some hot boy would ask me to a couple skate that night because of my bra.  Didn't happen, but a girl could dream right?  After I got my bra  and I was so mature Skate 8 just didn't seem as cool.  All the cool kids were going to Rocky's.  I heard they even had a light up disco floor.  I begged to go but mom had heard it could get wild.  Mom finally said it was ok to go on a Saturday afternoon.  I was so excited.  I walked in the door.  The music was so loud you could hardly hear yourself think.    I am pretty sure that Pac Man Fever was playing.  The bottom floor was all video games and when you walked up the stairs the dance floor was to the left.  It was much darker at Rocky's and the disco lights were amazing.  Everyone's jeans were much tighter than at Skate 8 and were Jordache.  No Calvin's here.  Couple skates here weren't the holding hands skating slow that I was used to, they were the type that one person skated forward and pushed the other backwards.  Some couples even mastered the heavy petting make out session on wheels technique.  My virgin eyes.  We would practice our dancing during the week so we could show our moves on the dance floor.  There was a dance called The Walk that if you didn't know you just were not cool.  We heard it was even better on a Friday or Saturday night, but alas I was denied by my (I thought) overprotective parents .  Didn't they know I could handle it.  I was wearing a bra for God's sake.  (Thank you by the way Mom And Dad).

I don't know if skating lost it coolness or if we just outgrew it but it seems like we just quit going.  One day we wanted to go every Saturday and then the next we wouldn't be caught dead there.  Maybe it was when our hair got so big that we took up to much room on the dance floor.  Maybe it was when we quit putting our combs in our back pockets.  Like you could run a comb through all that hairspray.  Maybe it was when we actually got the boobs to fill those bras and we weren't comfortable moving too much for fear somebody would notice.  Whenever it was it was a a rite of passage into the scary world of preteen-ness and our world would never be the same.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It better be a girl

My grandmother did not have one of those filters that most people have that prevent them from saying exactly what is on their mind.  (My mother taught me the value of "how nice" at an early age and I will forever be grateful for that). Even though Grandma would tell you exactly how she felt it didn't mean that you couldn't change her mind.  Of course she would never admit that her mind was changed and she would insist that she really agreed you from the beginning.

I will never forget the day that I told her I was expecting my first child.  I called her up and said Grandma, guess what?  I am pregnant.  She was very quiet for a minute and then said, " I am not sure how I feel about this". Now granted I was in no place financially to have a child, but I wasn't quite prepared for that reaction. I said oh well you better get used to the idea.  A couple of days later she calls and says that she has decided that she is ok with me being pregnant, but IT BETTER BE A GIRL!!!!  She even bought girl things to make sure that it would happen.  Soooo, a few months later I call her up after the ultrasound and say "guess what Grandma.  It is going to be a boy'.  Response- "I am not sure how I feel about this' and a couple of weeks of silence.  I might have softened her up a little when I told her that her great-grandson was going to be named after Grandpa.  Instead of William we were giving him the Irish nickname of Liam, but his middle name would be Hunter just like Grandpa.  You'd have thought she wanted a boy from the start.  She was so proud.   She would point to my belly and say that is my great-grandson.  He is named after my husband.  She went on a buying spree like none other.  I think at one point she had bought over 50 stuffed animals from catalogs .  And this was before he was born.

While I was pregnant she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her chemo regimen did not allow her to come down for his birth, but I knew she was with me.  She called almost every other day to talk to my baby.  We would put the phone to his ear and he would coo into the phone for her.  It was like he knew how much he meant to her and wanted to let her know he knew.  When I was finally able to take Liam to meet her she took him in her arms and cried.  I had never seen this kind of reaction from her.  Those two were like soul mates.  Liam knew when to crawl up in her lap and cuddle.  He knew when to give her one of those baby smiles that melts your heart.  One of my favorite memories was the two of them in the backseat of the car cackling while she did this little piggy on his toes.  When he was older she would call and he would jabber on the phone to her.  He hadn't even said his first word yet and the two of them would have a five minute conversation.  He didn't do that for anybody but her.  When she came to Bristol to the nursing home he would play in her room.  He wasn't one bit scared of the nursing home or the fact that she was really not looking well.  He really loved her and I think he brought her joy during her final days.  I don't think Liam was old enough to remember her, but I do think he is a better kid because he had her.  I always tell him how much she loved him even though he was supposed to be a girl. I guess it is proof that sometimes what we think we want really isn't what we are supposed to have.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Fly

Grandma took her own sweet time at everything.  Before the stroke when she would tell a story each sentence was followed by a deliberate long drag off her cigarette.  She would start- Well you know...long drag, inhale, slow exhale... I went to college at Murray State.  ...long drag, inhale, slow exhale...  That was a girls college in Kentucky.  ...long drag, inhale, slow exhale...  You get the point.  She could take an hour or two to finish her morning coffee ritual (instant, coffee rich, one spoonful of sugar).  The morning would start about two hours after Grandpa had been up.  He had most likely fed the birds, fixed a squeak somewhere in the house and was back from Value City by the time she woke up.  She had cataract surgery so until the 90's when she had surgery she had to wear these hideous pink rimmed Coke bottle glasses before she got her contacts in.  She wore dentures and while she would never be seen in public without them being seen by us grandkids didn't bother her.  She would get out of bed, put on the glasses and then put on her robe.  It was Velour and it zipped up.  She would then slowly come down the hall and sit at the speckled counter to have her coffee and cigarette.  She would take a paper towel and fold it in half to use as a coaster, set the coffee on it and light the cigarette.  And then we would wait.  Tiny sip, drag, inhale,exhale, make some comment about how Lou Holtz was a SOB, drag, inhale exhale, sip...  you knew it was going to be a while before she got moving if the cards came out and she lined up a game of solitaire.

Well one morning she took exceptionally long to get up and Grandpa was off doing something.  Ness and I had spent the night there and we were just plain bored.  There were only 5 channels of tv and there was nothing on so we were just bound to get in trouble.  Grandma finally finished the routine and was out in the living room watching tv.  Ness crept into her room and got the robe and the glasses.  She came walking out into the living room with the glasses and the robe on covered up her teeth with her lips and said- Look- THE FLY!!!!!  It didn't help that the movie was one of blockbusters that summer and it really didn't help that Ness looked both like a fly and like Grandma.  Ness got in trouble for the prank and I got in trouble just because it was easier for Grandma to have us all in trouble that to single somebody out.  Being in trouble meant having to sit on separate couches while Grandma went out and smoked another cigarette.  Being in trouble also meant that we had nothing to do but sit and look at each other and plan how we were going to prank her again.  oh yeah- and throw pillows at each other.  SCORE!!!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Shopping days

Today  I took Caroline to the Virginia Highlands Festival.  We strolled through the craft show and then picked up some cupcakes at Babycakes which used to be the Starving Artist Cafe.  After eating our cupcakes on the bench outside the shop we went over to the Abingdon Mercantile.  One of my favorite days occurred about twenty years ago in much the same way.  I will get to that in a minute. I need to explain what a day was like was shopping with Grandma.  First, there was no such thing as running out to a store to zip in and zip out.  My mother and I are experts in the 20 minutes shopping trip. We can do more damage in Belk in 20 minutes than most people can do in a couple of hours.  Not Grandma.  First you had to help her get all dolled up.  This meant looking at every new outfit that she had bought since the last time you saw her.  Then you had to pick out jewelry.  Each piece had a story and each outfit had multiple choices.  Before the stroke you had to wait for her to have a smoke every hour or so.  After the stroke you had to wait for her to walk down the hall. Don't get me wrong, the woman could walk fast if she saw a piece of Heisey at a antique shop that she might buy, but she went reeeeaaaalllly slow otherwise.  So you finally made it to the Cadillac, you always had to take her car, and the fun began.  First there would be lunch.  When it was open we would go eat at  the May Company or some other Ladies Lunch hot spot.  When I was little I would always get Shirley Temples.  When I was an adult we would have froo froo drinks.  I don't think people lunch like that any more.  Just taking your time enjoying being away from the men.  After lunch the shopping would begin.  Grandma wanted to touch everything.  Wanted to comment on everything.  If the salesperson was smart they would pay her a little attention and Grandma would buy the whole line.  If it was shoes, she would buy everything in her size.  Before her stroke she wore heels. Always.  Not pumps.  Heels.  In the 70's, Go Go boots.  Yes with hot pants.  I am pretty sure that wearing heels is one of the things that the stroke took away that pissed Grandma off the most.  So anyway, we would shop.  On one trip to Atlanta with my mom we shopped so much that I almost didn't have room to sit in the car.  Hat Boxes take up a whole lot of room you know.  I guess what I am saying is we spent the whole day being with whoever was with us shopping. Sometimes it was my mom, sometimes it was Ness, and sometimes it was just the two of us.  I really really miss those times.  Life now doesn't seem to allow the time for those kind of days that often.  So back to one of my favorite days.  My dear friend Victoria (Torie) got to experience Grandma shopping day firsthand.  We went to the Starving Artist's Cafe for lunch and then over to the Abingdon Mercantile for some shopping. They had P. Buckley Moss prints and she needed a few more ( haha). We then stopped at several shops in Abingdon and ended up at the General Store. When we went to pay for our merchandise the owner said it was all on the house.  He had enjoyed watching the three of us shopping and said he felt the love that we had for each other and just wanted to thank us for making his store a part of our day.  That is what really what shopping days are all about.  Being with people you love and getting away from everyday life.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Everything has a price

My grandmother was an antique dealer.  She specialized in glass, particularly Heisey glass.  Heisey was a fine glass company in Newark, Ohio. They had many patterns of glassware and were known for their glass figurines.  Grandma never did anything halfway and she didn't go halfway with Heisey.   She knew more about Heisey glass than anybody, really. I remember her being on a local news program discussing Heisey.  I would go to the Heisey convention with Grandma and she was the queen of the convention. She got called in to do estate sales where there was a lot of glass.  If you wanted to know if the stuff you found in somebody's yard sale was worth anything you called Grandma.  Her CB handle was the Heisey Lady.  The basement had shelves on all the walls and were filled with glass.  Everything had a little white sticker with Grandma's inventory code and a price.  Very good business practice.  The thing is, it didn't stop at the basement.  Everything in the house was for sale.  It only made sense to decorate the house with beautiful antiques if you were a antique dealer, right?  But most people would probably take the price off.  Having a party at Grandma's?  Somebody get the punch bowl out and get the price tag off so we can use it.   Some of those price tags had been on there so long they were never coming off.  I even found on the other day in my Grandmother Remember's book.  Grandma thought her memories were worth 10.95. I would disagree.  So one day we decided to play a little joke.  We were having a shower or a party for something.  Beautiful party as always.  Punch in the beautiful Heisey punch bowl.  Some of that green pistachio jello pudding and cool whip salad.  Those really yummy butter mints that melt in your mouth.  All served on little disposable plates each with a handwritten price tag lovingly placed on the bottom.