Saturday Afternoon Salute...
After a quick spray at the car wash, we drove out to the edge of Skiatook for what we'd presume to be this car's first unloaded trip to a cemetery.
I have no idea what kind of traffic any given cemetery sees in any given day; everything from minivans to motorcycles, everybody stops by for their own reasons in their own time.
Don't look at me like that. We weren't just full-out obviously taking pictures, we didn't have any half-naked goth chicks sprawled on a casket hangin' halfway out of the back. Oh shit, I said naked goth chicks, here comes Go0gle...
We were respectable about it; that's why there's only this one picture that I took with my phone; and it's not like we just pulled into some random cemetery somewhere -- My Grandma is buried there, along with a few other members of her side of the family.
I'm quite sure Grandma wouldn't mind... She might even see the humor in the situation and decide to ride along...
My Grandma answered phones for the wrecker service way back in the day, and she was "car people" just like the rest of us, even after she and Grandpa split. My Dad was her oldest, and she was always warm & kind, even to all of us took-in kids.
The holidays were always big at Grandma's place; out in the yard when it was warm, back in the garage when it was cold. Easter was always a big cook-out with egg hunting, and Christmas was huge.
I remember one Easter, I guess I was in College or right around there; I remember several of those odd years of wondering if I really fit in or not. I was standing on the porch with My Mom when Grandma called me over. "Turn around a minute," she said, and I wondered if I had something on my skirt. "I had to see closer, you've got SEAMS!" Grandma grinned, "I had no idea they still made stockings like that! Where'd you find 'em?" I sat down beside her to chat about Frederick's Of Hollywood and watch my aunts shoot me funny looks. To this very day, I remember that moment every time I walk by that store, and when I smile to myself, she's on my mind.
Christmas with Grandma was always huge, every variety of table, covered with party plastic and snacky goodness, and surrounded by every variety of chair, from dining room chairs to lawn chairs, to picnic tables with benches, all in the garage with the tree in one corner, and Santa came every year with a big sack of toys. Even after I'd outgrown "Santa" as a guy who came down the chimney at home, I was still just stunned by the idea of this Santa who came to Grandma's every Christmas Eve with toys for all of us. I got a Barbie every year, and there were never any repeats, and even though I knew it was a guy in a suit, I wondered where they found this guy who'd bring everybody toys and how he knew which Barbie Dolls I already had at home.
I was sixteen or seventeen when I was finally "let in on the secret." Yes, it was a guy in a suit, but Grandma left the bag in her laundry room for Moms and Dads to sneak the toys into so Santa could pick it up on his way in -- that's how there weren't any doubles, My Mom did the shopping. I also realized that's how I got a teddy bear the one year my folks were split and Mom didn't come.
One of my greatest moments with My Grandma happened in late 2001 or early 2002, out on the Keystone Expressway somewhere between Tulsa and Sand Springs, doin' sixty five or seventy in her electric-blue Ford Contour. We'd been to a doctor appointment, then had lunch downtown at The Interurban before heading out to the Pharmacy. That was the first and only time I've ever been to The Interurban; I can't remember what I had for lunch, but I remember vividly that it was the first and only time I've ever stepped into a ladies' room and heard Southern Culture On The Skids playin' through the overhead speakers. Once we were back in the car, I opened my purse to get out my Rio (remember the MP3 player before there was an iPod?) and share a little music, and Grandma asked me about the fake sunflower that was sticking out.
The wedding flowers sparked a discussion that still makes me smile; My Grandma was the only person in my family who seemed excited about the idea of me having an actual wedding. She kept our picture on the coffee table, even though she had to fish it back out from underneath the table every time my aunt or my cousin had been there and tried to move it out of sight. She knew I was always fascinated with that big strange bottle of wine that she had a shelf made special for; so she gave it to me when we moved her in with Dad. She gave me a really thick sewing book and told me to just try it and don't be so afraid of that blue velvet. She also cried with me when David died; I still have a rather large quantity of those fake sunflowers -- they're almost everywhere and it seems like one ends up in almost every car.
Someday, there'll be at least one fake sunflower at a wedding...
Until then, here's to you, Grandma Ruth, we'll remember you with Chicken & Dumplings, and Wacky Cake, and maybe even Margaritas on the patio at Pepper's Grill in Utica Square!