“The best thing I can tell you is that you gotta learn to do the splits. It’s very helpful. You’re pretty flexible, aren’t you?”
From my cousin, Laura:
“Gam got the pics today from Jacky’s prom. While looking at them through her giant magnifying glass, she kept commenting . . . . and I couldn’t help but chuckle when she said, “look at Jenny! See, I told her she has to wear her hair down and stop pulling it back“. lol.”
That’s more like it . . .
These are the grandkids Gam raised.
Fred Armisten asks it in SNL’s 2010/2011 takes on The Lawrence Welk Show. My sisters and I can quote every sketch by heart. Especially choice lines from “Joonice” or “Eunice,” or whatever her name is–we can’t quite figure it out. But next to my three beautiful sisters I’m definitely the gal with the big forehead, the baby hands and the affinity for mustard. (Is that bad?)
“Is it just me, or could you show a movie on that girl’s forehead?”
“Is her forehead really big or am I just looking through a buncha bubbles?”
“Is it just me or does her forehead look like the side of a cliff?”
Anyway. Once I was watching a movie with Gam. I think I was in high school. She studies my face for a few moments before she leans in and asks, matter-of-factly, “Have you ever thought about bangs?”
“Not really, why?”
“Well you do have a rather high forehead. Bangs would cover it up a little bit.”
[Cricket Cricket Cricket]
“And you could let them hang in your eyes, and look up to the right and blow them away, like this.”
She makes a flirty face and blows a tuft of air out of the right corner of her mouth, sending her thin curly tendrils up, up and away.
“It could be your signature move.”
“My signature move?”
“Yes. Every girl must have one. And that could be yours!”
I wonder what Gam’s signature move is?
There are probably quite a few.
(Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo . . . )
“Jenny, would you like my bedroom set?”
“Why would you give away your bedroom set?”
“You know. For when I die.”
My ticker stops for a sec. Too matter-of-fact.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” I tell her.
“Well we’ve got to.”
“Not today we don’t. Besides what are you going to keep your cute pajamas in if you give away your bedroom set?”
“Well it’s good to be responsible about these things,” she tells me. “I’d like you to have my bedroom set cause your mother tells me you STILL don’t have one. There. All done! That wasn’t so bad. Now, what fun things shall we talk about?”
Responsibility isn’t always fun to talk about. But tonight it’s fun to remember.
A brief list of responsible things I learned from my Gam . . .
1 It’s OK not to talk to anyone first thing in the morning until you get your grumpies out. (More later)
2 When you go swimming, you always wear sunscreen. But no higher than a 4 or a 6 SPF or else you won’t get a nice tan.
3 Ice cream tastes the best after the news was finished (When I was little I couldn’t understand how Dan Rather could ever be more exciting then going for ice cream. Oh well.)
4 Good neighbors always have a pot of coffee going for drop-ins. Always.
5 When you’re going out, you always wear lipstick and always wear earrings. Always.
6 You go to church on Sundays and you raise your hands or else you don’t love Jesus. (More on that later.)
7 Clean the house BEFORE the cleaning lady gets there. Not because you need a cleaning lady, but because you know someone who could use the work.
8 Treat maintenance men and waitresses with your utmost respect. When your cat runs away or you need an oversized Geisha portrait hung in the perfect spot, you’ll have plenty of help.
9 Say thank you with huge tins of brownies.
10 Decorate your place how you want to, with things you love. Even if that means you have a Christmas tree hung with nothing but homemade stuffed cat faces with google eyes.
11 Take long walks with your dog even if you go so far you get lost.
12 When you say you’ll pray for someone, do it. God listens to anything you put on your fridge
13. Ask for hugs when you need them. Sometimes you just need a hug.
14. When in doubt, tell someone you love them. Even if its three times in a row and you feel silly saying it.
15. Starbucks coffee is overrated and “smells like burnt socks”.
16. Family is the most important thing you’ll ever have.
17. Don’t stare at people who look different than you, even if they have an extra thumb. They’re probably the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
18. Oatmeal is so much more fun with rainbow sprinkles.
19. Old Bay seasoning makes anything taste perfect.
20. Cheer for your favorite teams.
21. Knowing the words to The Wells Fargo Wagon is a resume-worthy life skill.
22. Corgis are God’s favorite dogs.
23. Feed the hungry; you’ll find a best friend. (Even if its about stray cats.)
24. Swear words are sometimes necessary.
25. Keep your life savings in a sock under your mattress.
Gam was uncharacteristically sentimental on the phone today.
She told me that one of the things she really wished she could have done was see me get married.
Go to my wedding, wrap up a gift, be there to watch me with my best friend. Maybe steal a dance or two.
“You would make a beautiful bride,” she tells me. “Truly. I just wish I could see it.”
She breathes heavy.
I tear up.
It’s unusual for her to talk so warmly about such things–maybe even hinting at the fact that some of my dreams have been hers all along.
Doesn’t last long, though.
“Just don’t wear your hair up in a knot! You know how I feel about your hair when you put it up.”
I laugh. I was waiting for that.
“You wear it down. You want to be pretty, don’t you?”
I laugh again.
Trustworthy. Predictable. Gam.
So we’re sitting at breakfast one morning and Gam makes one of her ninja observations.
“You girls don’t have small noses like your little sisters’.”
“No Gam. Big Polish nose.”
“Yeah. That’s true.”
My sister Patty and I definitely got the short end of the stick when it comes to noses in our family. Luckily Gam is encouraging.
“That’s OK,” she tells me. “You just have to learn how to use it properly!”
Any suggestions on how to properly use a Polish nose? Patty and I welcome your ideas and input.