That was my Grandmother’s name. She was a beautiful lady who could play the piano and she was excellent at handwork. She made her own clothing and she was always willing to share her talents with me. She taught me to sew and to cook and to garden and I miss her an awful lot.
I didn’t know my Grandfather, he died way before I was born. Grandmom lived with my Uncle on a little street in Philadelphia. I loved their house. I think I remember it being called an “air-light”. It had a large picture window in the living room and that room opened into a brightly lit dining room that had it’s own double windows that looked out on a small yard and a back driveway.
Grandmom didn’t drive. My parents would go and pick her up and bring her to our house, or my Uncle would take her where she wanted to go. She could walk to her church, and she could walk to a little deli where she’d get essentials, but for the most part she was a home-body.
It is funny that my Grandmother was quiet and reserved and yet her son, my Uncle was loud and effervescent. I remember his welcoming thunderous ” How do?” whenever we visited, followed by handshakes all around.
I remember the colors in her house. Her carpet was green and she had furniture that was green. There was a big picture mirror over her couch and she’d laugh at me when I stood on it to look at myself. I remember she collected fine china ladies that appeared to be dressed in real cloth only it was dipped in porcelain and felt like glass. I wasn’t supposed to touch those dolls, but Grandmom didn’t really mind as long as I was careful.
Her home smelled of chocolate chips. I don’t know if she made them regularly, or just when she knew we were coming, but I seem to remember them always being in her cookie jar. But when I say jar, you have to think of a wooden cannister instead of a round jar.
I miss her hands. They were strong and soft at the same time. I loved watching them move across the piano. She would tilt her head back and sing. Her voice was high pitched and she’d trill some of the lyrics in a very old fashioned way.
At the bottom of her coat closet was a box filled with coloring books and notebooks and crayons. Those were the only toys at her house, but somehow, it was all I needed at her house. I remember when I was a little older that my Uncle made a dollhouse for her that she filled with small reproduction pieces. It was a lovely house, but it seemed out of place.
I want to go back to Helen’s house. I want to sit on the floor and have her brush out my hair and then braid it. I want to hear her tell me once again that I’m not putting my fingers on the right keys, and that it just takes practice to learn piano. I want to see her Easter decorations; They covered her upright piano, little fuzzy ducks and bunnies.
I want to eat a large gingerbread man, or a gingerbread woman frosted with Royal icing and decorated. I want to see her ugly dolls. (She’d made quite a few and kept the ones that didn’t pass her tests for beauty.)
I want to hear about her cousins and the old hotel, and I want to see her applying lipstick and combing out her white hair.
I want to hear the stories about her working downtown in Philadephia and I want to hear the story about meeting Salvador Dali and getting a handkerchief signed by him.
I miss Helen. I miss John.