My Grandmother always taught me to look for the blue in the sky. She lived to be 89 years old and I believe her attitude kept her alive and healthy for a very long time. Her birthday is soon, and she is on my mind even more than usual. Grandma was a very important influence in my life. She made me feel that I was a friend and yet could muster up sound advice when she thought I might get hurt in life. Growing up my mother worked and my grandmother looked after me. She would tell me these wild stories to get me to behave. The above photo on the right is my favorite photo of my grandmother. The photo above on the left is of me and my baby sister, Lynne at my mother's home in South Hampton. My Grandmother is in the background making gravy. My sister, Susan was behind the camera taking the photo.

Grandma could bake a cake that was so tall that when you tried to cut a slice it would tumble beyond the plate. She would say, "Just put in an extra egg and it will make your cake raise higher." I have tried that trick for years, but it never works for me. I have used her other bits of advice and they do work. For instance, she would say "Now if you are going out shopping with the girls, set the table first. This way when Ned comes home from work and you are not there yet, he knows that you have something planned for dinner." Another great bit of wisdom, she would say, "Now if you are in the kitchen and maybe you just came home a little late or you just don't know what do make for dinner. Well, while you are thinking about this put a little butter and onion in the pan and start it on a slow flame. This way your husband thinks his dinner is on the way." You know I have tried those tricks many times and they work. Ned just loves to think that I am thinking about, planning and executing dinner. She would also tell me if I was having a bad day that women of her day would go and buy themselves a new hat. "Now, never-mind abou that bad day, God has a plan. Go buy yourself a new hat and you'll feel better." She was right buying a little "somethin somethin" is important for women. I also tried to take possession of her pot roast pot after she passed, thinking that I could make gravy just as delicious and dark brown. No such luck, it was the love that she put into her cooking that made it so divine.

When my grandfather passed away at the funeral I told my grandmother that I would come and live with her. I was getting engaged and I knew that it would only be for a year. I thought that year would help her to adjust to my grandfather being gone. It was great, and the day of my wedding I left from her home. Later she blessed my life when my husband and I were getting divorced. I went to live with her again, and it was great fun. I used to come home from dates and sit on the edge her bed and tell her all about it. One thing about Grandma if you got up in the middle of the night or if you came home late she was always happy to have a cup of tea and a chat. Our lives kept meeting at important chapters and our relationship grew into something great. When she met Ned, my husband of nineteen years, she leaned over and whispered "He's a keeper." The photo here is the day she first met Ned and whispered that bit of advice. Ned loved her and she loved him and we went to see her often. He loved that in her late 80's she could talk sports or politics and she was always bright and entertaining. You could never go to my grandmother's house and not eat something. Ned loves to eat, so he got extra points. Now mind you she was pretty fussy...she didn't like allot of people. But if you ate a piece of her cake or agreed to stay for supper, well that might get you on her good side.

Just before Grandma passed away Ned and I were going to take little Sarah, who was just two years old to visit her in Long Island. We were driving from Princeton, New Jersey and it was summer, which meant summertime traffic. Now we all have driven in traffic, but I am talking eight hours in the car traffic. All the New Jersey people are off to the Jersey shore, and all the New Yorkers are off to the Hamptons...which means traffic. Ned had to fly to South America later in the day and we had just planned a short trip to my grandmother's house, have a nice lunch and then I could drop Ned off at the JFK on the way home to New Jersey. Well, unfortunately, it took us hours in the summer bumper to bumper delays. By the time we got there we only had time for lunch and a short visit. Grandma made a delicious chicken dinner and one of her famous sky-scraper cakes. We visited for a bit, and Sarah stole the show for attention. Then we had to get to the airport, and so we had to leave. I could see that look in Grandma's eyes like "Can't you stay just a little bit longer?" Ned put Sarah in the car and I started to walk outside and Grandma was about to follow to wave goodbye. As I held the screen door for her and gave her one more hug, she grabbed my hand. "Karen, you are probably the best friend I have ever had, do you know that?" I repled "Oh Gram, I love you." As we drove out the driveway I had this eerie feeling I would never see her again. I was right, she passed away shortly after that...I never saw her again.

I am so thankful for all the wisdom and funny sayings that she gave to me, and for all the times I spent listening to her recount stories of when she was young. I always cherished her, perhaps it was because she helped to raise me, and because every Sunday we had dinner at her house all growing up and because our lives intersected at the important chapters. The day of her funeral I was in the bathtub crying my eyes out and I heard a little voice say "Don't cry you are going to hurt the baby". I thought I was crazy but the voice did sound just like Grandma's. At the funeral I told my mother I think I may be pregnant. My mother said "Are you late, did you take a pregnancy test?" "No, but I think Grandma whispered it Mom", I said. Well low and behold I found out a few weeks later that I was pregnant with my daughter, Ashley. Perhaps it was a coincidence, perhaps it was my imagination. But I will tell you, every now and then I'll be in my kitchen and I will hear "put a little butter in that pan with some onion." I know that she is with me, I feel her glorious spirit all the time. I love that word was my Grandmother's favorite word. The name of the song playing in the background is "Once Upon A Time". Once upon a time when I was four, my Grandma would take me for a vanilla ice cream cone and she would ask the man to put chocolate sprinkles on top, and it tasted better than any ice cream I have ever tasted because she bought it for me. Sorry Gram, I just remembered her saying "Do not say she, she is the cat's mother". tee hee

molly jean said...

Karen, I am in tears! What a lovely person she must have been!
Every time I see my grandmother I am afraid it is the last time! She has had similar impact on my life. She is 90 now and lives too far away for me to see often!

KarenHarveyCox said...


I used to call my grandmother all the time after I was married and had little Sarah. She lived so far too. She was such a stable influence in my life. She was so cute too, if you called Grandma up anytime night and day and said "Gram, do you want to go for a ride?" She was waiting in the driveway when you got there. She would be wearing a hat and carrying one of those pocketbooks like the Queen carries. She had the bluest eyes and the sweetest smile. I guess the best part of life is cherishing people so much that you memorize all their specialness. When they go to heaven they leave pieces of themselves in your heart.