Channeling Alice Cooper
Schoooooool’s out. for. summer.
It’s about this time every year that I transform into a hermit. Ok, so I transform into even more of a hermit; I have very strong bridge-troll tendencies.
My body is not svelte enough to enjoy summer clothing, and my tolerance is not strong enough to engage in virtually any public ventures when kids are out of school. It’s not that I don’t like kids, I just don’t always care for other people’s kids. And since I don’t have any of my own yet… This just sounds bad. I do like kids, really, I just don’t like loud, obnoxious kids. You know, the kind that seem to come out of the woodwork while you’re trying to do some leisurely shopping or taking in a movie or sitting at home minding your own business and just want to have your darn windows open.
There’s not a whole lot I like about summer in general. The one thing I do appreciate about it, though, is it makes me remember the times I spent with my great-grandmother. Her mobility was hindered due to her severe arthritis, but her personality was feisty. She liked to say that something rowdy (like a puppy) was “full of vinegar,” and I remember her being pretty vinegar-y, too, at times.
Most years, we took a week or two out of summer vacation to drive to Texas to see her. The ten-hour drive was brutal, but the visits were wonderful. In the mornings, I’d wake up early and sneak into her big, squishy bed. When she was ready to get up, I watched her put in her dentures and clip on her earrings. I helped her slide on her little old lady house shoes. I followed as she shuffled with her cane down the hallway to the living room. It was my job to turn off the green crystal light fixture that hung near the television and open the mini blinds to let in the morning sunshine.
Days were mostly spent avoiding the hot, humid weather. We stayed in and watched old television programs like Leave It to Beaver, Lassie, The Munsters or Batman; my dad liked to tune in to CHiPs. Occasionally, we ventured out to Wal-Mart or a craft store, having lunch at Whataburger or supper at The Black-Eyed Pea. The best days were those when we got to see my cousins and feed ducks at the nearby lake.
When we didn’t make the trip south, Great Mamaw was brought to our house for extended stays—sometimes months at a time (or at least it felt like it). It was easy to take her for granted when she was around. Easy to just think of her as my partner in snapping garden-fresh green beans. But what fantastic memories she could’ve recalled if I’d thought to ask more often. She was alive when the Titanic sank, lived through two world wars, survived the Dust Bowl/Great Depression (and collected little condiment packages wherever we went), saw countless monumental changes in the world. She went to the beauty parlor once a week to have her hair done and wore a little kerchief when we went out. She had me help her sort her pills into the little daily boxes. She drove us crazy sometimes, and she made us unspeakably happy.
My great-grandmother died when I was 14, and I miss her terribly. She doesn’t look too thrilled to be in this picture, but I had to use it. Where else can you see an authentic Luke Skywalker shirt these days?! Plus, this is a first glimpse of the photo collection I like to call “The Evolution of Awesomeness,” which showcases my fangirl apparel over the years.