I came across this piece that I wrote to share at my grandmother's funeral several years ago. Then a few hours later, while sorting through some pictures I flipped through the pack of photos to find this wonderful shot that my brother took of her. The date on the picture is not when he took it, but rather when I took a picture of the enlarged print that was hanging at my parents' house when I was visiting one day.
Details, Details, Details
When I think of my paternal grandmother, it's not always the big things that stand out in my mind. I am reminded of her unique quality to make even the simplest of daily tasks special because of her attention to detail. Her dress made it evident to all that this was a lady who "had it all together" and if you ever went shopping with her you found out that that doesn't just "happen". She knew what she was looking for and she let the salesclerk know. She was willing to pay handsomely for quality goods but was not afraid to request an appropriate discount for something less than perfect.
Orange juice or ginger ale were more special in her flowered glasses, ice cream tasted better in the turqouise colored bowls, and the cookies for dessert and the bread for toast and sandwiches were always from Pepperidge Farm. Even a hamburger from Friendlies was special if you used a knife and fork and ate it with her by your side.
Gram's little details were what made holiday celebrations with her so memorable. It was agony as a child to wait until Grammy came over before we could open our Christmas presents but I learned that waiting is good and anticipation makes the reward even sweeter. I don't remember many of the actual gifts that I received from her, but I will always remember how they were wrapped. Her boxes were so beautifully wrapped and everything was done "just so", down to the number of loops on her handmade bows. We grandchildren always marvelled and thought it was magical that she could wrap a present with barely a speck of tape. The making of the gravy at Thanksgiving and Christmas was her job because no lump was tolerated in Gram's gravy. It was always she who gathered us women together to wash and dry the dishes immediately after the meal because that's how things were supposed to be done.
She made each of us grandchildren feel special by starting the "birthday dinner out" tradition. She would take us out to eat at the restaurant of our choice and then out to the mall to pick out a present. I was so nervous the first time, not knowing what on earth I would say to her all night. She was a wonderful conversationalist, and those once a year excursions with her became the highlights of my growing up years. Birthday memories always include the details: a Shirley Temple with dinner, watching her count out crisp dollar bills from her impeccably organized wallet, the way she would reapply her lipstick after dinner, and stopping at the Putnam Pantry for a box of mints on the way home.
She taught me that attention to details distinguishes you in the workforce. I was so priviledged to know Grammy B. not only as her granddaughter, but also as her co-worker at the Rose Medallion gift shop. She had high expectations as she trained me as a sales clerk, and I worked hard to imitate her. I loved our Sunday afternoons together in the store.
Grammy gave me so many things: an appreciation for beautiful things, lessons on the importance of managing your money well, a sense of adventure and a love for travel, but most of all she taught me that it's the little details that make life special and that create memories that last for generations.