Monday, June 25, 2012

The Good Life

My sweet little precious 93 year old Grandma passed away last Friday.

I am named for her...Anice.

But her name is pronounced "Aa-nis" and I am "Uh-neice" (like "hello, I am Jane's niece Anice" and it rhymes.   So my name rhymes with "niece" and her name is like Janice without the "J".  I much prefer her pronunciation...more elegant...more southern...

She fell and hit her head...but the way I look at it, it was her was her time to go and be with God and her husbands.  She had Alzheimer's and had it for quite a while...but I can tell you that she managed to live a long good life even with the Alzheimer's...

Yes, note the plural on "husbands"...

My awesome Grandma outlived 3 husbands!

Her first husband, who was my biological grandfather died young and left my Grandma a young widow.  My mother was only 16 years old.  He died when his plane crashed into the Atlantic.  Ironically they found the plane when the investigators were looking for the remnants of TWA Flight 800 which crashed into the Atlantic in July of 1996...but at least my family had complete closure even though it was a shock for them to find the aircraft so long after he crashed.

When I was about 2 my Grandma married the man I refer to as my Grandpa.  His name was Bob...but for me he was always Grandpa.  I was totally spoiled by him...and my Grandma.  Being the oldest grandchild I got more than my fair share of doting upon.  Uh taking me out to eat a footlong hot dog when I was 10 even though I could only eat 6 inches of it...but yeah, they let me have it anyway.

Spoiled rotten...that was me...

After Grandpa passed away Grandma came to live with my mom for a while...but in 1998 she married her high school sweetheart who was named John.  Yes, some 50+ years later they reunited and got married.  John waited a long time to have his Anice...and they were very happy until he sadly passed away several years later...but they had about 6 lovely years together.  I'm bad with the dates and years details...

When Grandma was living with my mom Ke$ha Barbie spent a great deal of time with her.  Mom and I would look for Ke$ha Barbie and then we would realize she was upstairs with her "Gigi" (great grandmother).  We would find them having a grand time together in my Grandma's little apartment that was attached to my mom's house.  Ke$ha Barbie loved loved loved her Gigi...and when she was little she spent time playing with Grandma's various her bell collection...which I also played with as a child.

Once summer I spent several weeks up in Overland Park, KS with my Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Jane and Aunt Gayle.  We had the best sister Noel was with me and we had a blast every day being up there.  Gayle grew some strawberries and Grandma taught me how to make strawberry shortcake.  I can't have it for dessert without thinking about her and the shortcake!

I also learned what saccharine was.  She and Grandpa would put the little saccharine tabs in their coffee and I would try and sneak first it would taste good and then it got a bitter taste...but when I see saccharine tablets I think of my grandparents.

My Grandma was a secretary.  And a darn good one.  She would often type letters to me...last Christmas my aunts found a letter she had typed to me but for some reason never sent.  I think the reason was that I needed that letter more 32 years later than I did when she sent it to was about my parents divorce and to be brave...and that letter helped me stay brave through my divorce even though I knew I was doing the right thing.

Once time my ex and I (while we were still married) took Ke$ha Barbie and The Cutest Boy in the World (TCBITW) on a road trip to Florida.  Along the way we stopped in Laurel, MS to visit Grandma and Grandpa John.  They lived in a cute little apartment complex in Laurel.  There was a pond by the mailbox area and some geese lived there.  For some reason one of the geese HATED my Grandma.  I don't know why...but John told us the goose (or maybe it was a duck but I'm pretty sure it was a goose)  would see Grandma and go after her.  Sure enough that goose saw my sweet little Grandma and he started flapping his wings and running after her as we stood by the pond.

Dumb goose...he should have chased me...

Grandma loved to sing...especially to Frank Sinatra.  Even at 93 she could still carry a tune and would sing her favorite songs.  She taught me some songs---the one I remember most was "Marzy Doats" (you know...mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy...").  I loved singing that with her when I was little...

One of my favorite stories about Grandma didn't happen to actually is a story about my sister Susu (Susan) and Grandma.  Once when Grandma was visiting and Susu was about 6 they were outside by the pool.

Grandma pointed to the gate (that led to the front yard) and asked Susu "Susan, where does this gate go?"

Susu answered (quite matter-of-factly my grandmother said): "Nowhere Grandma!  It just stays here!  It doesn't GO anywhere!!!!"

Gosh but I love that story...

This Christmas was my last with my sweet Grandma.  When I arrived on Christmas day to my Aunt Jane's house Grandma looked at me curiously and I could tell she wasn't sure who I was.  I think sometimes she thought I was my mother (once I lost my weight)...and I think my weight loss did confuse her a bit.

We sat down to Christmas lunch and I scored the spot across the table from Grandma.  There were several people at the table and we were all chatting.

In the middle of the meal Grandma looked up from her plate and smiled at me and said "Hi Nicey!"

And she's back!!!!!!!

Woo hoo she knew who I was...I got about 5 minutes of her knowing that it was ME sitting there across from her.


Truly was....

Grandma was loving her lunch that day...we were all having a great time.  I loved eating that last meal with her that way.

In the middle of the meal my wonderful Aunt Evelyn (who is married to my uncle) came in and was kissing and hugging everyone.  She kissed Grandma...and after she walked away Grandma said "Who is that ?" (lest you think she didn't love my Aunt Evelyn, I assure you she did...she asked "Who is that" about EVERYONE because she was 92 at that time and had Alzheimer's).

I said "Grandma, that's Evelyn!"

she still looked confused...

Jane said "Phil's wife!"

Grandma looked across the table and said to us "Who would marry Phil?"

We lost it laughing...and when you are 92 you can say whatever you want...

And lest you think she didn't love my Uncle Phil I can assure you she did...but he didn't get married until he was in his early 50's...but that is just because he was waiting for the right one to come along and that right one is my Tia Evelyn (I call her that because she is Puerto Rican...and I love love love her!).

So what else can I tell you about my grandmother?

She cut the heads off of almost everyone when she took a picture...

She loved the color blue...

She loved my father even after he divorced my mother...

Losing my mother broke her heart and I have to say I'm glad she had Alzheimer's so she didn't have to have the pain of remembering she lost her oldest child every day...

There wasn't anyone who met her that didn't love her...

She had beautiful eyes and an amazing smile...

She had a great sense of humor...

She loved Burger King Chicken Sandwiches...

She hated sushi but gamely tried it every time we went to the sushi bar...

She loved cookies...especially chocolate chip ones!  I gave her a special cookie jar one year for Christmas and she always kept her cookies there...

She was born in Laurel, MS and was a southern belle in every sense of the word...

She was a tiny petite thing...but in my eyes she was always mighty...

Once when my mom was "frosting" Grandma's hair I told Grandma that it looked like "her hair was worms"...she wasn't all that happy about what my mother was doing anyway so she answered me with "Nicey, that is not helping..."....I still laugh about that...

She loved to dance...she and Grandpa spent a lot of evenings dancing their hearts fact we lost my sweet Grandpa one night to a heart attack after they had been out dancing...

She always called me "Nicey" (rhymes with piecey)

She was the best grandma ever...she was wonderful...

Inspiration Song: "The Good Life" by Frank Sinatra...I think it's perfect...

Bye Darlings...I hope you were all as lucky as me to have the best grandma ever...I know I was...she was simply the best and I was blessed to have her...

Monday, June 18, 2012

God Only Knows

Today is my Aunt Jane's birthday.

She's 28...give or take a few years...I'm not gonna give away her age...but I can assure those of you who have not met her that she is NOT a decrepit old woman...she's just a few years older than me.

And God only knows where I would be without her.

Recently I was asked to name the person who has had the most influence on my life.

My answer: my Aunt Jane

Those of you who know me well might have guessed I would have said my mother...but nope...the person who has had the most influence on my life has been my Aunt Jane.

You see, my mom was my MOM.

And, as wonderful a mom as she was, she wasn't always able to be the BEST mom.  She had some issues...not all her fault.

But there were times when my mom just wasn't able to be the adult in my life that I needed.

And thank God (and I do mean I THANK GOD) that my Aunt Jane was and always will be.

I've learned a lot from what not to put in a blender to make a drink...yeah, we tried that a few cream and certain liquors don't work.

She took me to see my first R rated movie...and explained what I didn't understand.  It was "Animal House"...seems pretty tame now...

When I went to Oprah it was an easy decision for Jane to be the person to come with me.  She had been my support system and she was the best person to keep me calm and help me be ready for the show.  We had a blast...and when I buckled my seatbelt (on the plane) for the first time without needing a seat extender, I was really happy she was the one sitting next to me.

I had to re-do my will after my divorce.

I knew without a doubt the person I needed in my corner is Jane.  So if I'm laying in a hospital hooked up to machines, she will know what to do.

She will...I don't doubt if for a moment.

She has unselfishly taken care of my 93 year old grandmother for many years...and Grandma has Alzheimers...but Jane never complained and did it all with love.  Only recently did she hand Grandma's daily care over to some skilled caretakers...Jane has a full-time job and caring for a 90+ year old Alzeheiemer's patient is more than a full time job.

She did it out of love.

Like everything else she does.

I don't know a single person who has met her that doesn't love her.

All of my friends love her and want her to be "their" aunt.  Trainer Girl is at the top of the list.

Me and Trainer Girl spend every Sunday during the summer so we can lie like lizards in the sun and then watch "True Blood"...but yesterday we altered our plans to spend it with Jane and some of her friends...I did not have to twist Trainer Girl's arm to get her to agree to the change of schedule.  She loves loves loves Jane.

Whenever I have needed someone to confide in pour my heart out hold me...

Well, Jane is there...always...always...always...

She gives so much of herself and never expects anything in return.

And heaven knows I ask a whole lot of her...some days I ask the world of her...

When I was having my typical teenage "my mother doesn't understand me" times, I turned to Jane.  She listened and played mediator.

Now that Ke$ha Barbie is having her "my mother doesn't understand me" times, she often asks if she can move in with Jane.

Not much changes...even between the generations.

I was so lucky I got to share so much of my childhood and my adult life with Jane.  When I was a kid I even convinced her to be a counselor at my camp just so I could have her near me.

Sneaky little plan but it worked.  I was jealous as heck when she ended up in my sister's cabin but it didn't matter...I still had the pride of knowing that the most popular counselor at camp was always gonna love me best...ha!

And she has loved me at times when I have not been lovable at all.

And she has loved me when I have done the wrong thing but she needed me to fail to see it was wrong.

And she has supported me when I didn't think I could stand on my own two feet.

And she does that with EVERYONE.

2 years ago I wrote a blog about her ("Jane") and I told this story...but to me it is worth repeating because it says it all about our relationship...

When I was about 5 or so my parents took us to Hawaii and they brought Jane along to help out watching us.

Jane took us to the beach.  I ran into the water...not very deep but enough to be in the water.

A HUGE wave came along out of nowhere.

Jane said it was like the wave was a giant hand...and it reached out and grabbed me.

One minute I was there and the next I was not.

I disappeared in the water.

Jane was frantic and looking in the water for me.

But then Jane said she could see my hand sticking out...

So she grabbed my hand...and pulled me out of the wave and the water and to safety.

And so you see that is what she does for me...

I reach out my hand when I am drowning...and Jane takes it and pulls me to safety.

Happy Birthday Jane...I love you and I thank you for being the most influential person in my life.

Inspiration Song: "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys.  One of the most beautiful songs ever written.  Natalie Maines sings a pretty good version too.  Because God only knows what I would be without my Aunt Jane...

Bye Darlings...I hope you are all blessed to have an Aunt Jane in your life...I am the luckiest girl in the world because she is in mine...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Island in the Sun

OK, I have to do a better job of blogging...but I had to get The Cutest Boy in the World off to camp and I have been helping GOTT and TTG with drama camp.  So I have been busy.  You all seemed to really love my silly story about my Daddy, Paris, and the bidet so I think instead of whining about my weight and the fact that Dimples ABANDONED me (no, he did not really...but he did move...for the best reason ever because his super gorgeous fiancee got a fabulous job out of state) I will tell you some more silly stories from my childhood.

This story is about one of my favorite places in the world---Hawaii.  And it is also the best story I have that demonstrates how you can learn a lot on vacation (but not about bidets)...and how you can learn a lot from other people.  And yes, like "Le JR" and the bidet fountain, every crazy word is true...

My mom took my 2 sisters and my brother and me to Hawaii when I was 15.  I had been before but it was the first time we went with just my mom.  We flew to Oahu first and then moved on to other islands.

While in Oahu we stayed at my favorite hotel in the world---the Kahala Hilton (which is no longer a Hilton but is still the Kahala).  I love love love the Kahala.  I"m pretty fond of the Hilton Hawaiian Village too and the Royal Hawaiian but the Kahala is...special...

My mother was a jogger at the time so the morning after we arrived she went out for a jog.  While jogging along a man pulled up next to her in a convertible and asked her to stop.  He was British.  He asked her "excuse me but do you have a piano?".

Yes, he asked her with no preamble if she had a piano.

My mother replied that she was just visiting but that our hotel had a piano.  He thanked her and drove off.

He was Dudley Moore (Arthur).

She came back and got on the elevator with a blonde Scottish man with shaggy hair and a very tall blonde woman and some kids.  They were all arguing.

The man was Rod Stewart.

While waiting for my mother to return from her jog my sister Noel and I ate an entire pineapple by ourselves and our tongues were numb for the rest of the day.  I do not recommend consuming an entire pineapple with just one other person if you plan to eat anything else the rest of the day.

The next morning we went to breakfast in the hotel.

My brother spilled his juice for the 189th time.

My mother informed my brother he was not getting another glass of juice.  He started to pout a bit.

A few minutes later another glass of juice appeared in front of my brother.  My mother told the waitress to take it back because she did not order it.  The waitress said "I know...he did" and she pointed to a man at the next table.

The man looked at my brother and said "I spill my juice all the time...that glass is on me" and then he knocked over his own juice (on purpose) to make my brother feel better.

The man was Don Knotts (Andy Griffith Show).

After that we went into the swim suit shop in the hotel and ran into the dad from "Happy Days".

So the lesson learned?

NOT that you see a lot of celebrities at certain hotels in Hawaii but rather you just never know who might notice you spilled your juice...or will need a piano.

We moved on to the Big Island (Hawaii).

I love the island of is such a contrast...lovely cliffs and beaches and then all that lava at the south.  I love the airport there because you feel like you are landing on a lava field.   And it's all open air...

While there my mother invited an old friend who lived on the island to come and visit us.  Her name was Mona and she was about 92 years old at that time.  She adored my father---he had been visiting her in Hawaii since he was a child.  She raised the same kind of cattle that we did and she had a beautiful ranch on the island.

My siblings and I were very annoyed at having to spend lunch with an ancient old woman...especially because we had to get dressed and eat in the hotel formal dining room instead of laying about on the beach.  But we got dressed and dutifully waited for Mona in the hotel lobby.

In she walked...with her special fabulous cane...and I realized that this was NO ancient old lady.  She was special.

We went to the dining room and as we walked Mona told me that each morning she enjoyed having her driver take her out for a drive to look at her cattle.  She liked to take a thermos with her...and she winked at me as she said "and sometimes I add an eye opener to it".

At the time I had no idea what she was talking about.

Years later I realized she meant she dropped a bit of whiskey in it...more power to her...she was 90...she could do what she wanted.

So we get to the dining room and a waiter whizzes by with a dessert cart laden with all kinds of incredible looking temptations.

Mona waved her hand and flagged him down.

And then she proceeded to order 2 of everything on the cart!

We hadn't even ordered lunch yet.

She then informed us all that "at my age you eat dessert first because you don't know if you will make it through the main course!'.

Now that was some spectacular advice.

We only ate dessert that day...and it was one of the best meals of my life.

Mona warned us that there had been a small earthquake in the ocean overnight and that the undertow would be quite strong and to be careful when we went into the water.

We thought she said "underTOAD" and spent the rest of the day saying "beware of the undertoad".

To this day it is still the undertoad to me...

After our lunch with Mona, who sadly I never got to see again but dearly hope when and if I get to heaven that she is there waiting for me...with dessert...and an eye opener...

Lesson learned...well there are 2:
1) old people can really be a lot of fun
2) eat dessert first

Noel and I decided that our hair needed conditioning and that we really wanted to look like Malibu we greased our bodies with baby oil and then stupidly put it into our hair to condition it while we were on the beach.

So fully greased up we hit the beach...and the undertoad.

We decided to go body surfing...despite Mona's warning.

The undertoad was strong...and we kept getting pulled under and eating sand.  There were a few times I panicked that I might not surface again.  It brought back flashbacks to the time I got pulled into a wave and my Aunt Jane (the best person in the world) had to grab my hand and pull me out.

Noel and I were scraped by the sand and covered in it.

Baby oil gets sticky.

But the worst part was our hair....the sand and salt was good and stuck in our hair with all of that baby oil.

My mother was not happy.

We ended up pretty much using an entire bottle of Flex Balsam and Protein shampoo trying to get the sand and the oil out of our hair.  It didn't come out completely.  I spent the rest of my vacation with greasy hair.

I do not recommend baby oil as hair conditioner...another lesson learned.  Olive oil works much better and comes out without having to use an entire bottle of Flex Balsam and Protein shampoo.

I'm not sure they even make Flex Balsam and Protein shampoo any more...and what the heck is balsam anyway?  (I know it is some sort of tree sap stuff but what does it do?)

After a fun visit to Maui and then back again to Oahu we headed back home with a stop in San Francisco.

There was a hotel worker strike going on in San Francisco...we barely got a room.  There was no maid service and we were lucky to get towels....but it was still fun.

My greatest memory of that part of the trip was that we managed to lose my brother while we were shopping in you lose a 10 year old blonde and blue eyed boy with a bowl haircut in Chinatown is beyond me but we spent a frantic hour searching for him.

It escapes me where we found him...and for years I cursed that we didn't just leave him there. (Yes, I love my brother and NOW I am happy we found him but there were a lot of moments when I would have been happy knowing he was working in a Dim Sum restaurant).

Now I know that this story doesn't top a bidet fountain, but hey...that is my BEST travel story...but I hope you learned some things and were amused.

Inspiration Song: my favorite summer song of all time---Island in the Sun by Weezer!  I love it...makes me happy whenever I hear it...

Aloha dessert first, have fun with old people, don't put baby oil in your hair and beware of the undertoad...and don't lose your children in Chinatown...