As the Year of the Dragon commences, Grandma Winnie has left our world â€“ turning control of our family to her own Dragon daughter.
It is winter. January. And itâ€™s finally started raining in California. ClichÃ©, I know. This is Grandmaâ€™s absolute LEAST favorite weather. Sheâ€™s a true California sunshine girl â€“ always in search of the perfect tan, preferably found by the luxury of a lake or pool (or at least draped across a fabulous set of wheels to get her there).
In fact, Iâ€™m pretty sure sheâ€™s being welcomed through St. Peterâ€™s gates in a baby blue 1957 Chevy Bel Air to a place not unlike Maui â€“ although itâ€™s heaven, so probably more Bora Bora-esque.
Some of you knew her; most of you didnâ€™t. She was special. She is special. I will miss her. I am so grateful she got to meet her â€œhoneys.â€ The muppets were the honeypot to her Winnie â€“ like the Pooh. And her namesake lives on in Search.
Itâ€™s really no surprise, you see, she was Queen of Them All. The lone blue-eyed girl among three brown-eyed boys, she was always treated as special.
Her mother (my great-grandma) was an avid reader â€“ and a brilliant writer. She continuously read to her children â€“ instilling in them an almost obsessive love for stories. Generations of my family have experienced life with vivid imaginations and the drive and desire to learn. (I know where I got my word nerd tendencies â€“ Grandma Winnie was ready to go to school by age 3, even offering to attend kindergarten instead of her big brother Raymond, who cried every day as he was dropped off.)
She was spunky, lively and loving. She would be the first to roll her eyes and sigh, â€œOh, good grief,â€ at the ever present ridiculousness surrounding us in life. Her key to longevity was to never lean on the grocery store cart â€“ stooping and shuffling was bound to make you â€œelderly.â€ And Grandma Winnie, despite her protests to the contrary, was absolutely horrified at the concept that she might one day join the ranks of the moribund blue-hairs. (Her hair was always perfectly coifed â€“ a slight hint of silver sheen glimmering off her stark white curls.)
This was a woman who one day called me in a fury of frustration to complain about her technical ignorance as she navigated the internet for online shopping, chatted with me, sent emails about her plans and confirmed get togethers on her numerous travels by cell phone.
Several years ago, my mother procured a two-pound box of Seeâ€™s candy as a Christmas gift. â€œOh itâ€™s good to see you Mary See,â€ my grandmother cried! Also hereditary in our family is an obsessive devotion to the cocoa bean.
â€œI know itâ€™s a lot. You can freeze it,â€ my mother intoned dismissively. (Lack of chocolate worship is clearly a genetic defect in my mom.)
â€œFreeze it?! Eat it!â€ corrected Grandma. Naturally she shared with me.
I am the oldest grandchild. I am also the favorite grandchild. (This is my blog. Iâ€™ll grieve how I damn well please thankyouverymuch. Get your own blog and you can be the favorite.) She is the reason I tell stories. It is in our blood.
Two of my favorite family stories are Uncle Jonâ€™s journey to Blue Jay and Uncle Tom clad in my motherâ€™s orange jumpsuit. There are still so many more to share. She will never be forgotten. Her memory lives on in the stories I will continue to share.
I donâ€™t know how to say thank you. I donâ€™t know how to say goodbye. I am numb. I am sad I will never again see her screen name pop up in my chat window. I am angry she had to suffer; I am glad she is finally at peace.
So, in honor of her â€“ I ask you to share your own favorite family story in the comments below. Please help me keep the art of storytelling alive.
And also, letâ€™s all have some Seeâ€™s. Itâ€™s what sheâ€™d want. And feel free to share.