Sunday, September 20, 2009

Raise a Glass for Gram

She was a feisty woman, my Gram. One of kind; a rare mixture of lady and naughty. She could appear demure in her (it's a stretch) five foot two frame, sitting quietly back, politely nodding and smiling to the conversations around her. Unless of course it involved politics, namely her hero, Pierre Elliot Trudeau - or hockey, namely her dream team, the Montreal Canadiens. Contrast that with the little lady parked in front of her TV on Saturday nights, beer in one hand, cigarette in the other, cussing the bad ref calls and cheering her team on when they scored.

She was a force of nature and a big part of my life. *gross understatement* When my sisters and I were little, we would argue whose turn it was to sleep at Gram's. Maybe it was because she would let you pick a silk nighty from her drawer to wear; or in the morning, drink a big mug of instant coffee laced with teaspoons of sugar. Maybe it was because she would put on her old records and teach us how to cha-cha or foxtrot or play hand after hand of cribbage or euchre - for pennies. If you wanted to see her blow her stack, just try reneging ... yikes. She didn't coddle us -- no way -- if you lost your pennies, she took them. She said it was all part of learning the game.

When I lived at home, I spoke to her at least once a day. She was the first person I shared my news of getting accepted into college with. She could always be counted on to be on the other end of the phone.  When I went to college, I was the first person she shared her first old age pension with. She gave me $20 and told me not to blab it. When I landed my first job in the city, once again, she was the first person I got a hold of to share the news with. I spent many a night in her apartment sharing several half-beers (per the doctor -- half a beer would be good for her), as she told me how she fell in love, was convinced that her mother didn't love her, how life on the farm was no picnic and what a blessing the baby she had when she was in her forties turned out to be. She shared stories of wearing hiked up trousers under her dress on Sundays so she could sneak off and play softball after mass without her mother knowing. She shared the advice her mother gave her on her wedding night; and what a tough go marriage was to a man who spent years at a time away mining.

I asked; she answered. And I got to know the girl and woman my Gram was and had been. I could share my secrets with her too ... she never judged - just shared her observations. Mostly she made me feel as though I was the greatest ... a knack she had with all of us I believe.

I lost my Gram when I was 32, five years before my mom passed. The last words my Gram shared me with as she lay in her hospital bed had to do with my mother ... your mother is very sick. She has been an angel to me, so be an angel for her.  At the time, I didn't know how ill my mother was and didn't recognize them for the prophetic words they were.

It's been 17 years, and I still miss her. I miss the strong, powerful women I had in my life. Now I look to my girls, and see that the women power lives on.
Today my Gram would have turned 96.
Raise a glass for Gram.


  1. Great tribute to a wonderful woman! You were blessed indeed to know your grandmother (both of mine died when i was very young)

    I loved your mysterious serendipitous postcard! Do email me your snail mail address, and I'll send you another one - trailing some genunine African dust, to get you further in the mood! My email address is on my profile :)

  2. lyn...a good blog for the old lady.She was something else to you kids.a nice memory blog.I never realized she would be 96. good must be one i took polar bear

  3. Cheers to your Gram, cheers to your Mom and cheers to You. When I get the time, I will try to donate to your Kenya trip.
    Happy birthday when it comes up, love

  4. How sweet :) makes me think of my grandmother. When I think of what a strong woman she is, and of how much different the world is now than when she was my age, I feel a responsibility to make the most of it.


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