In a few short days my grandma will turn 90. WOW. It is amazing to me, since time has gone so quickly for us. Although she has gotten older, it is not hard to believe she would still be alive at 90, as she is a fighter…dare I say even spunky at times. It is hard for me to not be able to be able to celebrate her birthday with her, as we live out of state, but I still wanted to pay tribute to the wonderful woman she is. Here are a few things I love and have learned from my grandma.
BAKING AND COOKING: This my grandma had down pat. If you were fortunate enough to eat her homemade apple pie, you know what I am talking about. I remember her taking a day to teach my sister and I how to make the pie one afternoon. So much work! I think we were supposed to use about 6 apples, Jonathan apples, but we had to use about 10 because I was horrible at peeling them. She would peel the apple with a knife, and she made it look so easy. When I have made the pie for my family, it doesn’t taste or look the same. I miss her pies.
Not only did she make wonderful pies, she also was a perfect cookie baker and decorator. She made cut out sugar cookies for each and every holiday. Easter: eggs, chicks, and bunnies. Halloween: Ghosts, black cats, pumpkins, and witches. Christmas: Santa, reindeer, and Christmas trees. Her cookies almost looked to good to eat…almost. They were perfectly decorated and super delicious. I can remember her sending some to me for my students in Colorado the first year I was teaching there. I remember being young and “helping” her decorate cookies. She would say, “Now if you break a cookie, you’ll have to be done icing them,” trying to encourage us to be careful. Apparently I once broke one and went and hid in her bathroom! I have tried to copy her cookies and make them for my family and friends, but they always seemed to be missing her special touch.
She also made wonderful fried chicken, dough balls, and noodles. Whenever we’d go to her house for dinner she’d ask, now what do you want me to make for supper? I think she already knew the answer as it was often the same fried chicken and don’t forget the dough balls!! She always made extra so we’d have plenty. I remember once telling my mom her mashed potatoes weren’t as good as grandma’s. Now being a mom I understand that was completely rude to say but at the time I was simply being truthful. One holiday she brought noodles to my mom’s for lunch. We were excited and opened up the pot to find BRIGHT YELLOW NOODLES! I asked my grandma why they were colored, she smiled and said, “I wanted them to look homemade!” We had a great laugh about that. She truly was a wonderful cook.
VISITS: Growing up, we weren’t allowed to have many sweets and treats, so it is no big surprise that we looked forward to going to grandma’s house, where we got lots of “extrey smacks.” As a firm believer in a cookie and coffee for breakfast, she had no trouble offering us sweets. We had popsicles, oatmeal pies (frozen), pickles, Pepsi, and we had something else that was fabulous… the candy store! She would load us into her car and we’d go to the drug store, where we’d each pick out 3 things of candy. Boy were we in heaven. I think sometimes I’d eat all three of my treats because I was so excited. We also went to McDonald’s and just enjoyed being spoiled. Sometimes we would go and sleep over at her house. On these days she’d paint our fingernails, give us a bath with food coloring, play many rounds of Uno, allow us to roll down the hill in the backyard, take us across the street to feed the ducks, and let us stand by the fence and wave to cars. We even got popcorn at night and got to stay up and watch movies with her. I always looked forward to going to her house, she made it fun for us.
HER HAIR: If you know my grandma at all you know she likes looking nice. She paints her nails, wears stylish clothes, but most importantly she always gets her hair done. My grandma’s hair has been a topic of conversation and drama for as long as I can remember. She has dyed red hair that is short and curly. She has gotten her hair done, once a week for as long as I’ve known her. Always the same. I remembering thinking it was crazy she slept on her face. She smiled when I asked her why and said, “I wouldn’t want to mess up my hair!” Once while playing pictionary growing up someone was drawing a picture of a clown. I saw the picture and said, “Grandma!” We had to stop the game we were laughing so hard. When Isaiah was young he was showing off his knowledge of colors. We’d ask what color is the sky? Blue. What color is the grass? Green. What color is Great Grandma Healey’s hair? Pink! Oops, she said, “He doesn’t know his colors.” We had a great laugh. My grandma likes to remind us that if her hair ever goes gray, you know she’s on her way to heaven.
HONESTY: This is one thing my grandma never has trouble with. She is fond of saying, “I’m 80 (now 90), I can say what I want.” I remember getting my hair cut short in highschool and having her visit later that day. “Oh you got your haircut, she said… we’ll it’ll grow back!” Yes this is a true story. “Uh, thanks.” She said what she wanted sometimes a little to boldly, but sometimes I think in our culture we are too much the other way. Sugar coat the truth always. I don’t think that is much better. My husband said once, that since I have become a mom I am a lot more like her in this way. Once while at the airport, the man in front of us was wearing about 4 bottles of cologne. I guess I said rather loudly, “I can hardly breath, how can someone wear that much cologne?” Well, I hope I am like her in more ways than just this.
SPIRITUAL: My grandma does not go around talking about her faith to lots of people. I can remember a story she told me once that I never forgot. One night she was sleeping and in the middle of the night she heard someone calling her voice, “Dorothy, Dorothy, get up.” She woke up to find her house on fire. She was able to get all her family and herself out. That story really stuck with me. God spoke to her then, just as He speaks to us today. She is also a great example of a lot of Christian principles. Selflessness and generosity, being two of the most obvious. Giving me her car in high school, and then again when we were in need and she couldn’t drive. Bringing pies and cookies to people in the neighborhood and church. Hosting the reunion each and every year without complaining, filling her pool with ice and pop, getting the sucker tree and bingo treats for all the kids, and making lots of food. She has always been very generous with us, stating, “You can’t spoil a rotten egg!” I hope I can be that kind of person to others and make an impact on their lives as she has done.
There are so many memories and things I could go on about my grandma, going to the lake, ceramics class with her, playing in the water in the cul-de-sac when it flooded, her talking on the phone so her line is always busy, her playing hide and seek with my children, etc. But I will just way that I love her dearly and I am so thankful to God for all the years we’ve gotten to have her. She is one amazing woman and I am truly grateful and proud to be her granddaughter. I only wish my children could really know who she was, as she is older and different now. It is up to me to pass these stories and many others on to them, all while trying to perfect her apple pie.