|Someone's idea of a perfect grandmother|
My grandmother was a great cook and many of the things I make (except organ meats - disgusting!) I got from her. Cooking and wearing dresses were the only traditional things she did. When not entertaining her kids (my dad was one of four boys and one girl) and their families, she could be found smoking like a chimney, drinking beer, and watching hockey games. I adored her.
Several lifetimes ago when I was preparing to get married she came to stay with my family. Our household had a strict no smoking rule but it got bent for Gramma and she set herself up by the kitchen window. It was cracked open an inch and she blew the smoke out the window with long steady blow out the side of her mouth. Thus it was that each day passed.
My second youngest sister was in my bridal party. She's was a delightful sister then as she is now. At the time she was ten and all full of rainbows, happiness and hugs. None of the rest of us were like that so she was 'special' and we teased her about being adopted but she didn't care. Naturally my sister had a snugly vision of grandmothers. They knitted and sat you on their knees and loved you unconditionally and baked cookies and uttered words of wisdom. Because we had moved across the country, she didn't have the opportunity to get to know Gramma the way I had as the eldest, and she was desperate for some kind of common ground to connect with her.
As a gift for being in the bridal party I gave her a collector type of Teddy Bear. She thought it would be the best thing in the world to get her grandmother to name the bear for her. So she braved the cigarette smoke, waited patiently for Gramma to notice her and when Gramma eyed her, she made her request. My sister was looking for something romantic, beautiful, profound, eternal and quintessentially grandmotherly.
Gramma inhaled deeply because she knew what had been demanded of her and knew she was completely unqualified to step up with the name but didn't want to disappoint. Inhaling deeply bought her some time. My sister waited. Gramma blew a long stream of smoke out the side of her mouth and when it was gone she said with her distinctive, raspy, Zelma voice: "Call him....Zach". Then she nodded once, as she was inclined to do.
It was quintessential Gramma but not what a ten year old was expecting. My sister deflated and then a look of resignation crossed her face as she accepted that she would be owning a bear named Zach for the rest of her life.
When I was visiting my family recently my sister recounted this story complete with the raspy Gramma voice to the delight of everyone. She has come to love the moment as time has gone by and I think Gramma would be flattered to know how well she can imitate her complete with the 'cigarette smoke' blowing out of the side of her mouth and the nod.