Two weeks ago today, my hugely inspirational grandma- Jacquie- passed away, at 75. Her obituary in the San Diego Union Tribune can be read here.
Yesterday we honored 'Grannie', celebrating her incredible creativity and influence on so many. During her service, my mom, sisters, and I had the opportunity to share some memorable moments.
I grew up with a mom that was different than all the other moms on the block. I was often frustrated by her differences. As a kid I wanted to blend in-be the same as the other kids- definitely not stand out! I wanted so badly to be like the neighbors. The colors in my house were not average. Purple, red, orange... and, oh yeah, the yellow and black period! Unlike the neighbors, our Christmas tree was always color coordinated- all of the ornaments matching. I would cringe when friends would stay for dinner. Who knew what tonight's creative concoction might be?!
As kids, we weren't allowed to have coloring books. My mom wanted our art to be our own- not confined within lines. We finger painted with chocolate pudding, ketchup, and mustard. We built things from wood scraps that she picked up from a cabinet maker. We painted on the wall on the side of our house; my mom thought that it was a "fabulous canvas." We grew up in a creative playground, complete with a pottery wheel. Our childhood years were happy and fun.
As I grew up, I began to realize that I was picking up many of my mom's creative quirks; my frustration turning to the conclusion that the quirkiness was special. After I became a mom, I wanted to expose my kids to the same creative opportunities I had, substituting every day household objects for art and activities. Suddenly, I appreciated how great my childhood really was, and how lucky my kids were to have such a fun and influential grandma.
An outing with Grannie may have entailed feeding the ducks popcorn crumbs, complete with matching umbrellas and rain boots for the whole group, even if only on a PARTLY cloudy day. But the real fun was always in HER outfits. Bold, bright, and often handmade. Wearing two different colored shoes was normal for her: one lime green; one purple!
Trips to Grannie's house meant enjoying her famous jell-o knox blox; tossing ice cubes from the porch, into the fountain below; and above all, experiencing the magic of her arts & crafts rooms.
She was certainly no ordinary grandmother. No, a granddaughter might expect to receive something pink and knitted as a baby shower gift from her grandma. But lo and behold- pregnant with Camden- my shower guests were shocked when the signature bright ribbon-wrapped package from Grannie contained something pink and LACEY... in the form of thong underwear! Because "a pair of fresh underwear is what every new mom REALLY needs." Grannie was thrilled to become a great-grandma, or "Grannie Great," as she enthusiastically dubbed herself.
Yes, we were aware of Grannie's appreciation of good undergarments all too well. She took advantage of her two granddaughters working at one of her favorite department stores- Nordstrom- by phoning in her lingerie, cosmetics, and jewelry orders frequently.
One thing we looked forward to every year was the Christmas advent box that appeared on our front porch every December 1st. Each night, a new treasure unwrapped. Would it be a single package of microwave popcorn? Or maybe a new pencil sharpener? Always predictable, but a tradition my sisters and I loved even into adulthood.
We couldn't have possibly asked for better qualities in a grandma. As we stand here in our matching red sneakers, it is obvious that Grannie's creativity and quirkiness will live on in our family forever. With every vibrant scrap of fabric I use to sew coordinating outfits and bows for my girls... or as I remind them of the simple art of painting the sidewalk with a brushes & a bucket of water... or as I encourage them to go ahead and wear two different colored shoes to school... Grannie will be with us. With each perfect table setting; each strategically placed Christmas ornament... she will be there. A legacy I will be proud to pass on to my three kids.
As I became a grandma- my mom a great-grandmother- it became more and more clear that being curse with "the creative gene" was indeed a blessing. There is no doubt that each and every one in this room has, too, been inspired by the artistic legacy of my mom. Jacquie wasn't just a creative person, she was driven to create. To teach. To touch. What a gift to the world.
Following the service, we were greeted by the festive Mariachi band- Grannie's one requirement for her memorial- who escorted us to the church courtyard for a colorful celebration, that captured the very essence of Jacquie. Many guests proudly sported her handmade clothes and accessories. The mood was cheerful. The food was fabulous. As Grannie would have undoubtedly put it- it was just a 'GRAND' party!