Gram, Grandma McKnight, Lois, whatever you'd like to call her. She used to take me for an entire day for my birthday. We did lots of fun things, and went to places I wouldn't have probably been able to go to otherwise. I remember her taking me to a shoe store and buying me these white, leather, either boot or high-top type shoes with tiny star cut-outs all over them. My mother would have never bought them for me, they weren't practical after all. But, that's what grandmas are for right? I think she also bought me my first 'training bra' too. Hmm.
She took me to TJ's Big Boy (which is no longer there) for lunch and I had my first tuna melt there, and to the mall for shopping afterwards. One year she took me to the Planetarium and we saw the star show in the Sky lab and I remember seeing the RMSC with Indian villages and stuff.
Another year she took me to the Genesee Country Village & Museum. On the way I kept asking "where are we?" She would answer "right here". (It seemed like it was so far away.) When we got there, I was thrilled, and to make it even better the printing press guy spelled out 'Happy Birthday' with the tiny news print letters. Then I was able to pick out a paper doll book, of Victorian dolls and dresses. Perfect.
For some reason I remember bologna and ketchup sandwiches at her house. But, I could be mistaken. She'd always make a huge chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. And Lord let's not forget THE POTATO SALAD! Mmm Mmmm! What could be better than that? I have the recipe, yet my dad always says it's "not quite the same". Maybe she left something out so it'd never be just like hers? haha.
She would take us when my mom had Saturday classes at FLCC. We spent a few days at her house during the big Ice Storm of '91 because we had no power, no heat, nothing. I am sad she lives in Florida now, although it's a good excuse for a vacation right? It's been a few years since I've seen her and she hasn't seen Kian in person yet, so we'll have to change that soon! She was the quieter one but always there. Luckily both my grandmother's jumped on the email bandwagon and are easily accessible and free instead of huge phone bills! This picture makes her and I look a lot a like, and it's been said I have her thumbs...
And Grandma Castner, Grandma, Carol, take your pick. Food is usually associated with her. Big, huge Italian feasts. Most of my memories with her also involve huge amounts of food. Every Thanksgiving (with the exception of one where I couldn't get off work) I've gone to her house, sometimes alone, sometimes with a cousin or my brother, the day before Thanksgiving to prepare the massive amounts of food for the Holiday. I can't tell you how many pumpkin pies I've made over the years, 6 each year times at least 15 years?? It's such a smooth plan as soon as I walk into the door there are stations and jobs and we just pick up and go, we don't even talk about it. In fact, when another person joins it's almost hard to figure out what to have them do and when and what jobs we need to give up.
She's pretty no-nonsense and tells it like it is. Which, in our family, happens a lot with all the crazies. Her home always has an open door, for baby showers, wedding showers, weddings, holidays, visits, whatever it is. When I need her to get my mother in line she does that too. Of course it helps I'm her favorite. What? I didn't say that. Who's favorite what? What are you talking about? She always had a can of pop ready for the grandkids, even if we weren't supposed to have one. As long as you didn't drink it in the living room, only at the table!
When my grandfather died she was right there helping her kids with things, and making sure there was plenty of food, even though she'd been divorced from the man for a couple decades. And when her mother died she opened her house up to, yes, lots of food, even though we had to deal with digging out the septic system in the middle of it. Now, that was a memory.
Her house has cedar wood in it and when I smell cedar I think of her-Kevin hates it-but, it's a comforting smell. She'd kill me for putting up that picture of her making pea salad with her hands, but it's her, food, dig right in, get it done.
There are so many more things I could talk about and go on forever about each of them. It's amazing when I actually sit and think about it, how they each shaped my life just as much as my parents. Sometimes they had a greater affect because they weren't my parents. Somehow you just can't argue with a grandma and you always have more respect for them.
Honorable mentions: I have to tell you I also have/had 2 other grandmas. Well, since they were all divorced there were more grandparent figures in play. My dad's step-mother, Barbara, I haven't really known much since they've always lived in Florida and we never saw them much. But, she would send coloring books and books from Russia where her son was (I don't know why he was there) I just remember getting some Russian coloring book for some reason. Please correct me if I am wrong, someone!
And Pam, she was my grandfather's "girlfriend" I guess you call it, for like 13 years I think. She would always host Christmas eve and prepare food and make sure we all had a present that we liked and wanted. I haven't seen her in years, but she always tried to make it feel 'homey' and included us.