Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Ice Queen Melted

My birthday was on Friday the 21st and my family truly outdid themselves celebrating for me this year. I have been so busy lately with working from home, getting the nursery ready for the baby, being the Relief Society president, preparing for the holidays and other random projects that my birthday kind of snuck up on my without my paying much attention, so when everyone went all out for me it was most unexpected--so much so that I actually cried--a few times.

I got a surprise package in the post from Kaitlin in San Francisco with teh DVD Sabrina (Harrison Ford and Julia Whatshername and who cares anyway because it's Harrison Ford I watch the movie for). As I mentioned in an earlier post, Sabrina is probably my all time favorite chick flick and I coerced Kait into watching it with me right before she left me for a bigger city. But the tear jerker was the sweet card she sent with it (I won't tell you what she said, but it left me crying into my birthday poptarts).

That evening when I came home from spoiling myself (or rather, spoiling the baby by taking a shopping spree and buying ridiculously expensive decor for her room) Pete had a surprise for me. He covered my eyes and led me into the baby's room where this was waiting for me:

Which really got me crying. And I don't cry. In fact, on my mission the other missionaries started calling me the Ice Queen because I just about never got all weepy and emotional (among other reasons--which I maintain only made me a better missionary). In the past two and a half years that Pete and I have been married he has seen me cry a grand total of six times. But this beautiful rocking chair sitting in the torn up, soon-to-be nursery melted me and I cried.

Pete then took me to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner; Pizzaria 712 (the highest end pizza you will EVER eat in your life) and to Comedy Sportz where I have never seen them put on such a good show (and Pete and I used to be regulars).

All this left me feeling that I had so much to be grateful for--highly appropriate for this time of the year--and anytime really. I am so grateful for a husband who loves me despite my present resemblance to a killer whale, and who is so excited to become a dad that he is in the backyard right now sanding and refinishing a dresser for Baby Girl who won't be able to say 'thank you' or know why she should for at least a couple of years.

I am grateful for a family that, despite our weirdnesses, loves eachother and comes through for eachother without fail, and I am grateful that I have a purpose in my life directing my choices and bringing me happiness and fulfillment. I am grateful that I am not confused about who I am and that when this little girl is born I can help her remember who she is so she never forgets. And I am grateful that my heart knows how to melt and that I'm becoming all soft underneath and I can cry occasionally because that's what moms are supposed to be, right?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Grandma Mckinlay

I attended my Grandma McKinlay's funeral on Monday, and I really didn't expect it to affect me like it did; after all the poor woman was 97 years old and we'd known her body was seriously declining for the past two or three years (her mind had gone much earlier). So when I got the news that grandma had passed away I admit I wasn't sad. I knew she wasn't. I honestly felt it was a mercy and a blessing and was excited for her.

So I was unprepared for her funeral and the surprisingly poignant pangs I felt as family members shared memories and stories of grandma's life. I felt particularly guilty because my cousin Melanie had emailed me a month ago requesting all the grandkids to submit memories of grandma so she could compile them for a collection and I never got back to her. My excuse at the time was something ridiculous--like I didn't have time or something, but the real reason was that most of my memories involving my Grandma McKinlay seemed to revolve around food and I didn't want to admit the fixation in my memory.

But I'd like to make up for it now and record a few of my memories of my grandmother--both food related and non.

Grandma had a photo gallery in her house crammed with framed pictures of all her grandchildren. I believe those pictures were some of her most prized possessions. I was a curious--make that mischievous child always getting into everything and touching whatever people told me not to touch as soon as their backs were turned. I remember breaking a photo frame on more than one occasion and feeling horrible about it, but grandma never got upset with me or asked that my mother stop bringing me to her house no matter how much havoc I wreaked.

When I was about seven years old I found a little statue of a girl holding a dog at a neighbor’s yard sale. I thought it was so precious and I bought it for dime, but immediately began worrying about which one of my younger brother or sisters would break it once I took it back home. My solution to this problem was to take it to grandma’s house where all her breakable belongings were regarded with a sacred reverence and never disturbed or broken by anyone—except me. I took the horrid little statue to grandma’s house and asked her to keep it for me until “the kids” got old enough not to break it. My statue was given a place on grandma’s vanity table in her pink bedroom where I forgot about it for years. When I was about nineteen or twenty grandma began worrying about the statue and reminding me every time I saw her that she still had it and I could come pick it up any time. By this time I understood that the statue was really nothing more than a piece of rubbish, but it now had value because grandma had kept it safe for me for so many years. My plan was to let her keep it until she died and then collect it as a memento of how much she loved me. The little statue somehow survived grandma’s first move after grandpa passed away and kept her company in her room at the Atria, but sadly was thrown out in her second move and I was never able to reclaim it.

I remember those half cans of Shasta that grandma always had waiting for us back at her house after an afternoon at the pool, which were the greatest invention in the world because we each got to drink our soda out of the can rather than sharing with a sibling.

These little wonders would be served either with cheese hot dogs or a peanut butter sandwich that she always spread butter on as well. No one made peanut better sandwiches that way but grandma. And if we were lucky and had the timing right, grandma had sweet rolls waiting for us at her house and the hardest decision was whether to eat one with cherry or lemon jam.

When Sharon and I were very young grandma would read to us the story of Snow White and Rose Red and she would always tell me that I was Snow White and Sharon was Rose Red because of our drastically different coloring.

She had nicknames for us all; Kaitlin was Tootsie Foot, Danielle was Tiny Dame and Lynn was Yinny Boy. When Lynn was little he had a speech impediment and most people couldn’t understand more than a few words of what he said. He would get so excited when grandma would come to visit us and he would run up to her and hug her knees while telling her a rushed version of whatever he wanted to say before running off again. Grandma would wait until he was out of earshot and then turn to Sharon or me and ask “What did he say?” so we could interpret for her.

One time Grandma gave Sharon and me My Child Dolls with blond and brown hair to match our own (Sharon promptly got me to trade).

And she and Iris used to take Sharon and me shopping for new school shoes before the beginning of a new school year. Grandma would say “I get to take Charlotte,” because she knew I would only take ten or fifteen minutes to pick out a pair and Iris would get stuck with Sharon and have to spend two hours trying on every pair of shoes in the store. This was one her favorite stories to remind us of later when her memory was slipping. Grandma used to slip Sharon and me $5 a month to practice our piano. I’m afraid it didn’t really work because even though Sharon can sight read enough to pick out a few notes now, I can’t play a thing.

All these memories and more came back to me as I sat in grandma’s funeral and felt the little girl kicking my ribs from the inside. I was a bit sad that she would never know grandma or have these same memories (although her grandmas will both be wonderful). Grandma was such an indispensable part of my childhood and I really do miss her (and I guess being a kid as well—because the two went so inseparably hand in hand). Thanks grandma. For doing what you could for me and loving the one who broke some of your most precious things.