This is part of a larger story about my loving and funny Grandmother, and her eventual diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease.
We were always laughing at Grandma Mamie. She was a character. She didn’t mean to be funny most of the time, but she did some things that had us smirking and whispering. The things she did were funny because they were so practical. Like the time she vacuumed her front lawn. She had the house scraped and painted, and the paint chips covered the lawn. She thought that the easiest way to clean them up was to vacuum them. It worked, but it must have been a sight. I only know this as a story. I wasn’t lucky enough to witness it, but we teased her about it for years.
Grandma often took a bus to visit us. I never remember her showing up without a glob of brownish hamburger in her suitcase. She was not going to let it go to waste, so she hauled it down to our house. We shrieked every time she unloaded her belongings and revealed the never-ending package of ground beef.
Her patio furniture was over-stuffed wicker. The patio wasn’t waterproofed, but her furniture was. She made the covers for all of the cushions from pretty flowered material, and then covered it all in plastic. It was brilliant and worked like a charm. It wasn’t too comfortable to sit on, though, especially on hot days when our little legs stuck to it.
In the summer, we always ate on that great patio. She cooked incredible Italian meals, and had a huge tray for transporting dishes, silverware, food, etc., to and from the patio. The wooden screen door was rigged with a handle at the bottom so the person carrying the tray could open the door with their foot. And then to stop the door from making a loud noise from slamming, she tied a dishcloth from handle to handle to muffle the sound.
She wanted to make the patio somewhat weather proof, so she installed 6 foot shades which she made the pulley systems for. I helped her do this. She was the engineer and I was the worker. We tackled this project in her driveway, and I was amazed when we hung them and they worked.
Grandma always wore dresses except when gardening. She would throw on a pair of Grandpa’s pants to play in the dirt. It was so strange to see her wearing pants. We made never-ending fun of her when she dressed like this. She took it all in stride.
Her costume jewelry was displayed like fine jewelry on her dresser by using empty Oreo cookie trays. The trays were so full of colorful baubles, it was impossible to tell that the containers were cheap, recycled plastic unless you looked very closely.
Grandma was always a wreck when riding in a car. She had been in a car accident earlier in her life and was on edge on the highway, so she installed a rectangular mirror to the passenger visor so she too could monitor what was going on behind the vehicle while Grandpa drove. Oh, she must have been a fun “back-seat driver.”
And while a passenger, she always kept her pocketbook attached to her arm. I asked her why she did this, and she told me that if she was ejected from the car, her pocketbook was going with her. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her pocketbook would probably go in the opposite direction if she was ejected, no matter how hard she tried to hang on to it.
Yes, Grandma Mamie was the face of practicality. She started many sentences with “It just stands to reason…” I don’t think she ever thought that there wasn’t a simple solution to a routine problem. She never ceased to amaze and entertain her grandchildren with her never-ending wit and style.
She was a kid magnet!