Friday, October 28, 2011

remembering ruby

there are about a million things I should be doing right now...but all I want to do right now is remember. remember ruby pauline wolf. remember my grandmother.

I can still smell and feel their house like it was yesterday. the heater always going. always cozy. creaky wooden floors, old books with hardback covers lining the shelves and model airplanes or other things that clutter when you have four boys. I loved that house. it felt like a place of love and fun and get togethers. it also felt like the place where my dad grew up, and I would often look up at the senior photos of him and my three uncle on the wall above the staircase and imagine what that place must have been like back then.

I remember the lake trailer and all the memories made there. we always joked about it being a dumpy lake - one where kids scraped their knees and dripped melting flintstone push-up on their shirt - not the ones our friends went to that were characterized by speed boats and water skiing. no, we mostly swam, went fishing, made up synchronized swimming routines, and played cards into what felt like late at night (although I'm sure it was more like 10 p.m.).

I could probably write forever on the memories made in their old house, or of countless trips to the lake and excursions there...and I feel like I could write forever on memories of my grandmother.

I'm not sure if she loved games or if she just humored me and my love of games, but she would always play with me. when I was being a pestering younger sister and no one else would want to entertain me, grandma would always pull out some cards and we'd play rummy. and we played. we played hard. no letting ashley win, and no feeling bad when you out-scored your grandmother. we were out for blood. we'd sit and laugh, she'd sip on diet-coke and eat her sugar-free cookies and I'd eat anything and everything I could find. and she'd let me.

she and grandpa would come watch us when our parents went on trips in the summer. they'd roll into our small town in their giant blue cadillac and set up camp. they'd take us to softball games and haul us to the pool when our friends begged us to go. grandma would take out her giant pill container show me the "horse" pills she had to take that day. I stared in awe. she was so brave and swallowed 'em like a champ. she was always laughing at us. laughing with us. making fun of herself while pouring her love on us.

she always took her blood sugar and I remember thinking it looked fascinating. like it graded your blood. I wanted my blood graded. I sat on her knee as she helped me take my blood sugar. my number returned and she explained that meant I had good blood. she knew I'd have good blood, she said.

sometimes grandma would join us for vacations. of course this meant more evenings of eating around the kitchen table while playing a brutal game of rummy or hearts. one particular ornery night I had the urge to do grandma's short, curly white hair. what a sport she was. giggled while I strategically placed barrettes that made her look like bozo the clown. oooh I love it, she'd say as we posed for pictures.

sometimes as we age and the people we love age, we start to forget the good memories. those are replaced with fears about their health and their growing frailty. concerns over how much weight grandma had lost as I hugged her too-thin body good-bye the past few christmases linger as my most recent memories. but then I remember our fun together. the way she was always getting me to smile. the way she loved unconditionally. the way she made fun of herself while praising her grandchildren. the way she comforted me when I was down or out. watching soap operas on the couch while eating watermelon. playing wheel of fortune on her computer. being toted around town in the summer with her as my chauffeur. I will remember this woman. the one full of vitality and life and love. the real ruby pauline wolf. the real "my grandma. "


h.dawn said...

ash, i love this. i love that your grandma was a woman who left you with love and memories and i'll bet now she's remembering exactly the same moments, crisper and fresher than they've ever been. and she's up there kicking someone's ass in rummy.

ashley said...

thanks hailski - surely she is practicing so that when I arrive she might have a chance at beating me :)