Thursday, March 11, 2010

(Day 8 Vacay) Gothic Grandmother

She had a love affair with cigarettes.

My whole life I remember her quitting, starting up again, quitting, smoking, quitting, sneaking them behind the house and then the whole cycle would start again.
At seventy-four, she still smoked.
But let me tell you something about her.

For some reason, when my grandmother put that light to her mouth, it looked sexy. She looked glamarous. Pouty. In control. Intelligent. Purposely coy. Oh, I hated it, the smell, the sickness it caused her, the ashes.....but I knew, also, how much she loved them.
And wigs.
Did I mention the wigs?

One morning I got up early - around 5:30 am - to have breakfast with my grandparents before Papa went off to the furniture plant. Eggs, bacon, homemade biscuits, jam, orange juice and ashes.
In her coffee cup.

She never seemed to notice. They just dropped in there and she kept drinking. I kid you not. I was busy saving her from choking by pouring her coffee down the sink and bringing her a fresh cup of black, the way she liked it. I never said a word. I'd sit the cup down in front of her and she'd light up another and the whole cycle would start again - still having "adult" conversations with my grandfather about what was in the newspaper - a cigarette dangling from her lips and the ashes growing inches and inches long before they fell.

I'm shocked she never set the paper on fire.

That wasn't the only shock I got that morning.
Not only was she doctoring the java with an endless supply of carcinogenic flavor but her hair was gone!
Oh yes. I forgot to tell you about the wigs.
On little mannequin heads all over the bedroom. I should have known she didn't sleep in them but little pencil head wasn't prepared to see such a sight. "I look a fright!" she said.
In hindsight, of course, I know she was right. (sorry, grandmother) But at the time I was fascinated with all the long strands I'd never seen before. I loved her dark hair. But she didn't. Hence, the endless supply of meticulously coiffed heads that scared me in the middle of the night. To a little girl, she looked positively witchy in the mornings.

To my grandfather, she was always beautiful.

And that, of course, is what counts the most.

That's it for Day 8: Mimi Vacay

Inspired by a post at Fish's place.
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Travis said...

My gram had wigs too. And she smoked, but when the doc said quit because she was developing the early stages of emphysema, she threw out every cigarette in the house that very day and never smoked again.

I remember the long ashes. I remember that quick smell after she struck the match and took the first made me wrinkle my nose and she would laugh. She'd say "Oh fine", and put it out. Then light it back up when I lost interest and went to play in the other room.

But she quit and managed another 20 years, until the emphysema finally got her.

The wigs...I remember four of them and she would line them up on their scary heads in the back seat of the car and take them around the corner to the beauty parlor. I liked her red hair best.

Thanks for those marvelous memories my dear.

Finding Pam said...

I adore this story. Like Travis'comment it does bring back memories of my Grandmother as well. Though she did not smoke, she had the wigs. She had beautiful hair so I am not sure why she used those wigs. Did your grandmother save green stamps? Mine did and I love all the neat things she got with them

I hope you are having a wonderful vacation.

Mimi Lenox said...

Travis - At the time they seemed odd, didn't they? But now they are uniquely a part of why she was so different and so wonderful.
I know you feel the same way about your gram.

Mimi Lenox said...

Pam - Yes! She did save greens stamps! I remember them. And there was a catalogue of beautiful things to choose from. She always got things for the house and not usually for herself.

Mimi Lenox said...

P.S. Pam,

And thanks for THAT memory. It's a post in itself.

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