Grandma was born in 1902. She was 56 years old, and already seemed very old, when I was born. She was quite hard of hearing. My grandma was a short woman, well under 5′ tall, but she was not a small woman. Her clothes came from the half-size department; nowadays, we call it the plus-size department. She wore conservative clothing to church, black and navy blue, no jewelry, but very loud-print cotton house dresses at home. (The prints disguised the tomato sauce and paprika that found their way onto her clothes when she cooked.) The dresses, all of them, always seem to hang longer in the front than in the back, regardless of how they were hemmed. She wore a hat or babushka when she went out, and a very long black coat. Her long, curly white and grey hair was always pinned up on her head with hairpins and a hairnet – unless she was brushing it out. Grandma looked like Aunt Bea on the Andy Griffith show (but not as stylish), and even had that same shrill tone to her voice.
I spent a lot of time at Grandma’s. We (my sisters and I) were there all day most Saturdays, sometimes after church on. Once I was grown, I often visited her in-between. I visited at her house when she live around the corner, and when she moved into an apartment, I visited her there.
I loved being at her house, being with her.
Once Grandma passed away, I continued these visits with my Aunt, who lived with her ….but those stories, stories about my Aunt, are for another day.
Grandma had her special place on the sofa. Her seat. I don’t ever remember her sitting anywhere else. That sofa – it was the color of paprika, burnt orange; the upholstery fabric was bullet-proof. The furniture was always in the same arrangement – at her house nothing ever changed.
One day, a neighbor kid came to visit. He was very fond of Grandma, and her cookies, and stopped to visit whenever he came to town. His comment was, “Everything is always the same here, nothing ever changes.” It was intended as a compliment. And it was true, nothing ever changed there. She never fussed if the house was clean enough for company; she always said they came to see her, not the house. And she was right.
Everyone was always welcome, but I will say she preferred her grand-childrens’ friends, because she “didn’t like to be around ‘old’ people.” I remember her saying that she didn’t know how she got so old, that she still felt young on the inside. I didn’t understand her comment then, but I do now.