From the time I was about five till I was about eleven we lived across the street from my maternal grandparents. We were also within 45 min (I believe) of my mother's entire family-- about ten cousins, or so, and counting... It was an idyllic period of my childhood.
Grandmom taught us how to make a snow fort and the excitement of getting to actually throw stuff at grownups was only slightly dimmed by what lousy shots we were. Grandmom would laugh when she'd catch us off guard and nip a handful of snow right down the back of our snowsuits...
"Grandmooo--ooom, ooowwww!! That hurts, it's SO cold!"
And she would laugh and laugh. She helped us make a snowman and we filled both our yards with snow angels.
She and Pop-pop taught us how to hold a bat and throw a ball. They played soccer with us and babysat us. Grandmom put the fear of God into us about tearing leaves off her plants to use for our mud soup, but we did it any way. The thrill of evasion was irresistible.
She taught us awesome words that our parents vaguely disaproved of. Words like "nincompoop" and "dipstick" and "darnit." She said "darnit" a lot. Especially when she'd catch us climbing up her Japanese Cherry Tree, which, I was personally convinced, came straight from Japan and was therefore irreplaceable.
"Darnit! You kids get down outta that Japanese Cherry Tree!! You're gonna kill it! Git. Outta. There. NOW."
Grandmom played the fiddle and yodeled for a cowboy band called "Jeannie and the Sundance Prairie Rider Boys". (or something like that... I was pretty little and my memory isn't what it used to be). I have actually heard her yodel in person, so I know this is true. Somewhere there exists an actual recording-- an LP, perhaps? of the band, complete with Grandmom yodeling and fiddling. I have this picture of her in her cowgirl get-up, hat and all, perched on a white fence, grinning into the camera. She was beautiful.
My mother looks just like her.
I look a lot like my mother.
And I play Grandmom's violin.
My grandmother passed away yesterday, after several long years of struggling with Alzheimers. I am sharing my memories of her here as they come to mind...