“Grandma Jean’s Story”
It was a perfect day at the beach. A light salty breeze blew the rim of my Grandma’s big sun hat, threatening to blow it out to sea. She pulled it down harder on her head with both hands and tied the pink ribbon under her chin with a tight loopy bow. I love the way her hands look, paper-thin with old freckles blotching the tops of them. She had delicate hands, artist’s hands, that would never harm you. She would often pat my back or rub my arms, telling me how much she loves me and how good I am. She was so soft and kind.
Her fingers were unique. I remember studying them when I was little. The very tips of two of her fingers on her right hand were slightly gone, giving them a claw like appearance. The nails curled around her skin and grew close, protecting an old injury. They were still pretty hands. They were hers.
She lost them while driving a bus. It broke down when she opened the hood, I think a belt cut them off. I wish I would have listened to that story more closely. She’s not here to tell it anymore. Even though she wasn’t one to go on about an old story; she just lived and loved all her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids with all her heart.
“Hunny, we need to get you a big hat like this. You should always wear a hat out in the sun to protect your face. You have such beautiful skin.”
“Okay, Grandma,” I said, pacifying her. At that time I would never be caught dead wearing a thing like that; silk hot pink flowers tucked around the ribbon. I was 23.
It’s 6 am and I’m not sure why I’m up so early. I have never seen the sunrise over the ocean before, at least not that I could remember. Still, it’s so early but I dragged my butt out of bed to go with grandma.
She always found the best treasures on the beach early in the morning. Large conch shells, small colorful shells that looked like gems in the sand, and perfect driftwood that was smooth and worn from the crashing waves. We once dragged half a tree across the beach and through many states just to get it home for her.
It’s been years and the driftwood is still around, propped up against pots of geraniums and petunias on the back porch. Unfortunately grandma is not here, but she left us with perfect memories.
We would spend several weeks on the North Carolina beach. The whole family packed into a beach house. One of my favorite memories is Grandma insisting that she was just going to sit in the sand and let the waves swish over her feet. “Okay, Grandma. We’re going to go swim and play around in the sand.”
A while later we noticed Grandma waving her big ol’ bonnet above her head as if she was trying to flag down a plane. “Kids! Help! Come here!” High tide was coming in and the waves were almost to her waist. We ran and helped her up before she was washed out to sea. That is the thing I loved about her. She may not have the best mobility, but she enjoyed herself and lived in the moment. I love her for that.
Even the memories that embarrassed me at age 8 are treasures now. My grandma always took my sister, cousin, and me to the grocery store. It was not uncommon for us to be several aisles over with grandma yelling for us, “Amanda, where are you guys at? Do you want chicken for supper?” What were we supposed to do, yell back over the aisles? Instead, we rushed back over so she wouldn’t get to aisle ten and be yelling across the whole store. I think it’s hilarious now. It’s just grandma.
I need to go buy myself a big hat with a floppy brim. I would not be embarassed to wear it now. She taught me so much. I miss her.
This post is part of Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writing Workshop. You can read her immensely entertaining blog by clicking here.
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