I’ve written about milestone birthdays, The Year of 40 for example and the reward of travel. 40 seemed significant, 50 will be a whopper and 60 will be epic. What about 100, will I make it and how to celebrate such a remarkable milestone?
My grandmother, Emma Louverna Warren, turned a century on July 28, 2016. There is no physical gift I can give her that conveys my awe, gratitude and happiness to still have her around. We are not going on a big trip together so words are my best option and memories to share. I trust they will make grandma smile. The extended family in Florida is planning a celebration, though many are far away and will be with her only in spirit including me. I hope at the dinner party no one asks her to blow out a 100 candles!
The local newspaper called my Aunt Mary, where grandma lives with a request to interview her on the day. I have been pondering the questions they will ask. I’d like to send in some suggestions: What was your favorite vacation? What is your preeminent memory of living through the great depression? Did you have friends or relations who served in the Vietnam War? She’s seen our country make an incredible industrial and technological revolution and watched 9/11 unfold and the rise of terrorism around the world. What must grandma think about Donald Trump? And, I hope they don’t ask if she’s heard of Pokemon Go?
There are a lot of memories in that noggin’ of hers (100 years worth). I want to ask her if she remembers my frequent post school visits as a pre-teen, busting through her front door asking enthusiastically about snacks. Grandma’s house was conveniently two blocks down. I would toss a backpack in her entryway and take a seat on a padded-brown barstool, my legs dangling from my perch, watching her bustle about the kitchen producing unknown delights from the depths of a recycled margarine tub, an old cottage cheese container or a plastic bag. Nothing went to waste at grandmas and I was happy to comply with this important theory. While I munched on random leftovers I was always patiently hoping she would hand over the motherload of snacks…a roll of handmade strawberry fruit leather. My taste buds are popping as I type about biting into that marvelous dehydrated layer of tart yet sweet fruit.
I also want to ask how she felt about the grand kids tagging along as “helpers” when she and grandpa would pack up their van and head to craft shows to peddle their Petoskey stone jewelry. Grandpa and grandma turned Petoskey stones into lapel pins, bola ties, necklaces and more. Their garage was a mirage of bins, trinkets, jewelry, and gemstone accessories including the grinding and polishing machines. As youngsters, (all the cousins) we could not be trusted with jewelry making but packing, unpacking and general labor suited us well. I hope we actually helped. Mostly I remember hiding under the skirted table and watching grandma and grandpa greet customers. Occasionally, we’d need to find an accessory in one of the hundred bins stowed under the tables and we’d proudly produce it to the delight of grandma and many patrons.
I also want to thank her for the many handwritten cards that never failed to arrive in time for a birthday, an anniversary or Christmas. With six kids of her own and double that for grand kids, I pondered how she could keep up with all that correspondence. The card always featured her signature penmanship, cursive almost too small to read that wound its way around the paper until every nook and corner was used. It was like following a whimsical written maze. I’d turn the card in my hands and sometimes flip to the second side before she had completed her updates, salutations and blessings. She has a way with words so I am going to give her credit for my budding writing hobby. Just like she uses every inch of space on the cards she sends, she has filled my soul with memories abundant and an appreciation of using the written word to make someone you love feel special.