Friday, December 16, 2005

Holiday Memories.

In 1981 my grandpa died. Herb Ford loved Christmas more than any child you can imagine. He loved every nuance of the season -- family, decorations, presents, the happy faces of children and grandchildren, and what he called "good eats." He was fifty years and one week older than me and one of the solid anchors in my life. If I concentrate, think back, I can still see his twinkling blue eyes and happy smiling face. Grandma always said he had a streak of mischief in him a mile wide, but his heart was big and soft. I miss my grandpa's big, soft heart.

Mother died December 17, 1984. Verla Ford Smith was a beaten down romantic who died too young at 65. Despite the disappointments in her life, she celebrated every holiday with enthusiasm. No one wrapped presents as prettily as Mom. No one made better cookies or a finer Yankee pot roast. My mouth waters still, just thinking of her cooking. When she died eight days before Christmas, I was relieved. She had suffered so. Cancer had taken her heart, spirit, and breath. But no holiday has been the same since her death. I try to celebrate like she did, to honor her if for no other reason. I miss my mother and wish I could return to the days when she was young and healthy.

Grandma died in October 1989. Esther Clara Sanow Ford loved holidays, but the Westinghouse cooker that had done so many turkeys to perfection was cold that Christmas. The tiny house she'd shared with Grandpa since 1945 stood empty. Only the ghosts of past Christmases remained to haunt my memory. I was three years old when they moved into that house. For forty-two years I'd celebrated Christmas with other family members jammed into the crowded dining room. Grandma paid me high honor one day near the end of her life when she smiled and said, "You know, we're more than relatives. We're pals." She's been gone for 16 years but I still miss my spunky, little pal.

Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa were never politically correct. They said what they wanted, based on what their hearts dictated. No "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" for them. If they were here, they'd tell me "Merry Christmas!" Wherever they are, I hope they're happy and together.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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