by Kristen

Great-Grandma’s only child was born when she was 33. She had help to care for him in their home in upstate New York. She and his father dined after he was in bed. His father died when he was 15. Four years later while he was away at college she remarried. In his twenties he moved to California.

He fell in love with a woman in his apartment complex, and on a visit back to New York he placed a long distance phone call. He asked her to marry him. She hesitated. So he asked her to put her eight-year-old daughter on the phone. He made his case, she agreed, and together they convinced her mother. He married that woman and adopted her daughter—my mother.

Great-Grandma moved from Rochester to Southern California when she was 80—the year I was born. On Wednesdays my mom did her grandma’s shopping, and I stayed with Great-Grandma in her apartment.

Even as a pre-schooler I knew Great-Grandma was different—she called her purse a pocketbook, the couch was a davenport—she was a lady. Her silver hair was always perfectly coiffed. She dressed impeccably in suits accented with brooches and elegant jewelry.

One day Mom returned from running errands to find me alone in Great-Grandma’s kitchen: standing on a stool, wrapped in an apron rolling balls of molasses cookie dough in a bowl of sugar and placing them on a cookie sheet. As Mom moved toward me, Great-Grandma stopped her: “Darling, she can do anything she wants.”


This post is part of the 31 Days: Family series. Read the beginning, and see a full index of posts, here.

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