As I journey through the loss of my mother, I've been delving into old photos and that has brought a bit of joy into the day. It brings a smile to my face to see pictures of loved ones from years past. I realized how blessed I was to not only have my Gram who I get to visit in a few weeks (woohoo!), but I also had the following three people in my life as GRANDparents. Why the GRAND, you ask?
This is Alex. When I was very young, we rented a home from her and her husband, Sam (pictured below). Alex was from Russia and was in a concentration camp during the war. She lost her entire family in those horrible events. Sam was a young solider in the US Army and, as it was always told to me, he rescued Alex from the camp and brought her over to the States. They were married and started their life together. After a tragic miscarriage, they adopted a son and settled in Indiana, where Sam was born. It was during these years that my family came to know Alex and Sam. My mom would sit with Alex every Christmas and write out her Christmas cards for her. Alex would bake me special treats for these visits and she would sit me at her little bar to eat them. There was a photo of a glamorous women hanging nearby and I asked her who it was. She told me it was her and wasn't she so beautiful? At the time, mom and Alex giggled and I went on believing for YEARS that it was her. One day, watching TV the picture came on the screen and it was Marilyn Monroe!!! Alex, despite the many harsh events in life that later included losing her adopted son, was always smiling and positive. She was also the first fashionista in my life. Oh how she loved to go and get perfume, clothes, some bling, and make up at the large department stores. No matter what or when, she was always dressed up. In many ways, she treated me like a granddaughter. She would bring all the free samples and bags over to me. I credit her for my ongoing bling and make up addiction. While neither Sam nor Alex were movie stars, I certainly think they look like they could be in these photos!
In addition to my Gram and my bonus grandparents, I was lucky enough to have 16 years with this lovely woman. My Grandma was one of the best people I've ever known. Her patience, love, and caring were never-ending. I got my thick, thick, thick, (can I say thick) hair from her. I also got my chubby cheeks from her, too! When I am asked about Grandma Fields, one of my first thoughts always goes to her calling me Toot Toot. Okay, not for the reason you are thinking! I played trumpet from 6th grade through high school and she brought out that nickname one day and it stuck.
She played a huge roll in my love of reading. We would go to the library at least once a week and she introduced me to Agatha Christie after I went through the kids and young adult books. She also used to challenge me to read biographies to learn about others and a world outside of our small town. Every year for Christmas, I make dumplings how she taught me and wonder how in the world she could stand how slow and sloppy I had to be as a 6-year-old rolling out dough!
And one more story about Grandma that she loved to tell. I was staying the night with her and fell asleep on the couch after a long day of hula hooping. She picked me up to carry me to bed, forgot about an empty box in the middle of the room, and promptly tripped and dropped me in the box. All I remember about this is waking up in a box with my body folded in half and my grandmother laughing so hard she was crying. Her laugh was infectious and I started giggling, too. It probably took us a good five minutes to wrangle me out of that box!