Thursday, March 8, 2012

In my grandmothers' houses

Me and Mom-Mom
I am the first child and the first grandchild on both sides. I was born to young parents and was fortunate enough to know a great great grandmother, two great grandmothers, one great grandfather, and all four of my grandparents.

Five generations on my dad's side:
My Grandmom, Mom-Mom holding me (my great grandmother), Granny (my great great grandmother), and my Dad
I spent a lot of time with my two grandmoms and my great grandmom. I have so many memories of these women.  They have shaped so much of my life and loved me to pieces every day I was with them. They are what I remember most from childhood. I watched them and incorporated what they did, said, and thought into pieces of myself. To me, the best part of a person's story is the small details that make them who they are. It's comforting to take a stroll down memory lane through my grandmothers' houses.
My mom's mom is Gamma. Gamma and I were always on the go, to Makro, Shop-n-Bag, walking to the butcher up the block, stocking the stand at LSAA, visiting my other grandmothers, and checking books out of the library. She read me Humm the Singing Hamster eleventy billion times and instilled in me very early a love of books. Her youngest children, the triplets, were only eight when I was born, so Gamma's house was always loud and busy. I was always treated like the queen, and there was no end of cereal varieties. Gamma kept me well stocked in books and swedish fish (red and purple). She was at every game and school function even though she returned to the working world after I was in school. Her house was the first place I drove to on my own when I got my license. I pinned her mother's blue brooch inside of my wedding dress, and this year she gave it to me for Christmas. Gamma will be 80 in December and still lives in the house I spent so much time in growing up.

My dad's mom was a teller at Meridien bank, and I've been banking there through all of its ownership changes since birth. Her mother was a single working mother, and my Grandmom looked after her siblings and learned responsibility and the value of hard work early on. From her out of everyone in my life I learned work/chores first, play later. I often slept over her house on the weekends. Her poodle Inky would walk on my back and Grandmom would say he was taking a walk on the boardwalk. I spent a lot of time swimming in her pool, pretending to be a bartender at the bar in her basement, and playing with her music boxes. I now own the glasses that used to be in the bar and the music boxes. We jumped in the leaves at the American Legion across the street, and she took me to church at Our Lady of Grace, where I spent every  mass counting the beams on the Church ceiling. She made the best lemon meringue pie and pretty awesome corned beef too but has given up all kitchen duties in recent years. She will be 80 on March 17, and my family will spend a weekend in Cape May this June celebrating.

When I was born, Mom-Mom (my dad's grandmom) was in the hospital. She perked right up when I entered the world and we were inseparable from then on. Mom-Mom's apartments were always warm, full of potted plants and afghans. She made soup all of the time, and I am now a weekly soup maker. When I'm in a store, I pick up Basis soap and smell it because it smells like her. She taught me to knit and quilt, skills I have long let lapse. She answered everything I asked and never shied away from any subject. She snuck out and hopped on a train into Center City to go to dances as a girl, was a divorcee when it wasn't acceptable, went to school in secret to become a nurse and later worked at Byberry, never got her driver's license, was a single working mother and would only buy shoes at Ballow's in Bristol. She made me so many clothes and afghans, complete with matching ones for my dolls. She always twirled her thumbs which I often find myself doing. She frequently said "now wait" so it sounded like "nahwait" when I was impatient, which was always (her daughter, my Grandmom, does this too!). She died when I was 17, and she visits me in my dreams when I need her. Today is her birthday. She loved to celebrate our birthdays together.

Mom-Mom and Big Pop-Pop's Grandmom (yes, I called her that!)-Gamma's mother
I thank my stars every day for these strong female role models, and for all the time I spent with them growing up. March is Women's history month, and when I think of the women that have paved the way for all of us, I feel lucky to have my grandmothers so deeply woven into my own personal history.


p.s. one week until my birthday!


  1. Wow! What a wonderful story! Your Mom-Mom sounds like my Nana. My Nana is the reason I wanted to be called Nana by my own grandchildren, she was so much fun and so unconventional! I wish I had had so many ancestors in my life, but I have great memories of the ones I did. Your post has me reminiscing and I thank you for that!

  2. Sobbing! I retweeted this to my 70 or so followers.LOL! Gamma and Grandmom need to see this. What a wonderful tribute. Everyone is in our lives for a reason and the more people who love(adore!) you, the better your life is!
    Mom-Mom is with you every day of your life. I feel her and dream about her, too. AND today is International Women's Day! Mom-mom sees this and is probably thanking you for this birthday present. You were her reason to live
    when she had cancer, you brought her back to life. I am fortunate to have grandparents who adored me- so much love! We are lucky to infinity and beyond. Every day our lives are more blessed. I wanted to be called Mom-Mom because of Madge Molz!
    Love your Momma- I am embracing this spectacular weather today!

  3. just beautiful brought tears to my eyes. LW

  4. Very sweet hun....... You are truly an amazing granddaughter!!! LOVE YOU! MFD

  5. I love the love in this post so much. Every child should be raised this way. You hit the lotto with great role models. And genetically ! So many elders still here to bring you joy. Stephanie i found your blog thanksgiving weekend. I am stll reveling in the archives like precious morsels of leftover abundance of thanksgiving. You are a very talented writer . Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I will treasure them appropriately. Sincerly, Deb

  6. Darling. I am Grandparentless now and it makes me so sad. I loved having them all in my life- such a neat, different relationship.


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