[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
all the way up to the moon...and back
she didn’t have the easiest of lives.
her mother died giving birth to her younger sister. her father in a coal mining accident. her stepmother, true to the cinderella stories, sent her and her sister away to live in the state-run orphanage, telling family they had fallen ill and died.
the orphanage was a working dairy. up before the sun, working all day. it was three years before they were found and rescued by their mother’s sister who had never believed the stories.
she married young.
she was a hard woman. a mother of four. a mother who worked outside the home when most didn’t.
she wore stiletto heels with pointed toes. blood red lipstick.
she chain-smoked lucky strikes.
she never learned to swim.
she always paid cash.
she sent halloween cards.
she made the best beef stew in the world. the best applesauce, too. pie crust to die for. fudge that made you weep with joy.
with the birth of each of her ten grandchildren, she knitted a tiny, perfect little sweater. ice cream colors. with tiny perfect buttons with little animals on them.
she loved the cubs. strong black coffee. musicals. gregory peck. cyd charisse. anagrams. big band music. rhubarb. chinese checkers.
she taught me how to cook. to do my own taxes. to walk in high heels. to play poker. to stand up for myself. to believe in myself. to clean my windows with vinegar and newspaper. to ice skate. to love a good debate. to get involved in politics. to do the lindy. to do a cartwheel. to parallel park.
in the end, the cancer spread to her brain. which meant her moments of lucidity were few. i sat by her bed for hours, listening to her talk to me about anything. about nothing.
“i think we’re going to miss that train.”
“i cannot remember where i put that damn magnifying glass.”
“could you hand me the green beans?”
as a substitute for conversation, it had become our ritual – my ritual, i guess – to read to her. one of my favorites was a children’s book -- guess how much i love you by sam mcbratney. it’s the story of a little rabbit and his father and their love for one another. the little rabbit searches for a way to tell his father how much he loves him –as wide as his arms can stretch, or as high as he can hop. but, each time, his father is able to outdo him, stretching his arms wider, hopping higher. the little rabbit finally tells his father that he loves him “all the way up to the moon,” and falls asleep as his father whispers in his ear, “i love you all the way up to the moon…and back.”
the last time i saw my grandmother, it was hard to leave. somehow i knew it would be the last time i ever saw her. sometimes you just know.
as i leaned down to give her a kiss, i whispered in her ear, “gran…i love you.”
she smiled and took my hand in hers. she looked up at me with her green eyes and i knew she knew, too.
“all the way up to the moon?” she asked.
“and back,” i said, wrapping my arms around her.
she died that night.
that was two years ago. there isn’t a day that goes by that i don’t think of her. i don’t think there ever will be.
tomorrow morning, i leave for the shore. there, i will meet my mother, my sister, and my aunt. to do what we have done before. to say good bye.
hopefully, no dust buster will be needed.
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