An unassuming green binder sat quietly on the shelf in the room where she died, sixteen years ago today. That was one of the things that my grandmother left behind. A binder full of her handwritten essays, the product of a creative-writing class that she took six years before cancer took her. My father hastily typed it up, had it bound and distributed it to family members. It contains stories of her childhood and marriage. There are genealogy lists and random thoughts. There is the floor plan for the house she grew up in, and the story of her first date with my grandfather. It is odds and ends of her life and it is my inspiration.
I was just becoming a person when my grandmother passed away. I dream of her often and wake up sad that she is again gone. As an adult, a mother, I so wish I could talk to her. She raised eleven children, and I just wish I could ask her how on earth she did it.
I'm sure she was a very flawed individual, as we all are. I know she yelled too much (as I do). She smoked cigarettes (the long thin brown ones) which resulted in her lung cancer and death (I stopped smoking when she died). But I'd like to think that I am like her. She was smart (graduating from high school at 15, simply because she caught on quickly). She was resourceful and had a great sense of humor. She sewed and read and apparently wrote for fun. She wanted to be a dancer, like Ginger Rogers. She had an eclectic fashion sense and style that completely and totally worked for her, with a love of fabulous shoes. Her favorite color was green, just as mine is. Her eyes were green, just as mine are.
Whenever I take out my sewing machine, I wonder if she is proud of me. When I explain to both my children why we have narrow feet with even narrower heels that make shoe shopping difficult, I know she feels my pain (afterall, I did inherit those terribly narrow heels from her). When I buy a pair of shoes with an ankle strap, I know she would approve. When I say something funny, I know it is because I got her sense of humor. When I wear yet another green outfit, I hope she would like it. When I wear her green bracelet to my book signing, I feel like she is there with me.
I'd like to think that she would have loved to read my books. That she would be proud of what I have accomplished, in my career, with writing and as a parent. Although not terribly demonstrative, I know she would be right here, supporting me, as she did with everything I did.
Grandma, today I'm wearing green and thinking about you.