Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Miriam!

Today is my grandmother's 84th birthday. She's 50 years older than I am, and 25 older than my mom, who had me at the same age her mother had her. Miriam is what folks used to call "a pistol," and I think she rocks. She has the funniest voice, and when I try, I sound exactly like her--EXACTLY, to the point that I am frequently asked to do my Miriam impersonation at family gatherings, which leaves everyone in stitches. Until the time that I did my Miriam impersonation in front of Miriam, without meaning to. And realized it halfway through, but was kinda on a roll and couldn't stop. Thank heaven she was on some serious heavy duty cough syrup at the time ("Oh, Debbie! This stuff tastes just like coconut--it's delicious!"), and she hardly noticed.

When we chose our Toddler's name, Miriam said, "Oh, don't call her that, that's a terrible name." We called her that anyway, and Grandmom has never said another word. That was always the great thing about my grandparents: they could be judgmental, for sure, and they were six inches short of being Puritans fresh off the Mayflower, but they believed deeply in letting others live their own lives and make their own decisions, whether the two of them agreed with those decisions or not. I admire that about them so deeply.

She's slowing down a little now ("My ankles, Debbie! They get so swollen I can hardly get to the bathroom. And I go there fifteen times a day!") but she'll always be the one who gave me and my sister Honey Nut Cheerios (the only sweetened cereal we were EVER allowed to eat growing up) and on Sundays, a couple donut holes (after she taught us that "couple" meant two and "few" meant three), who bought us our first tennis rackets so we could hit balls against the cinder block wall at the South Florida court where she played doubles once a week, who made the most awesome clear glass lamp filled with seashells she had handpicked while my grandfather fished. She has always done needlework of one kind or another, and one of my great sadnesses is that I have so few of her things--she did a crib blanket for my sister that now belongs to our toddler, so I'll have to take the time to post a snap of that one day this week. She is stern, but she's fair, and as I watch myself (and my mother, and my sister) turn into her, I'm proud to know that I have traits she has passed down.

Happy birthday, Grandmom!

Photo: My grandparents on their wedding day, 1947. She wore a borrowed gown, he wore his own suit. Gorgeous, both of them.

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