This light switch cover was in an upstairs bedroom at my grandparents house. After years of playing a variety of games with my cousins in my grandparents house and the amount of time I spent there when they babysat me, I don’t even know how many times I’ve looked at it. As far back into my childhood I can remember, I admired it. When I think of my grandparents or look back all nostalgically at family parties and gathering, this is one of the things I always remember. When my grandparents both were finally gone, we all went through the house and took the things we wanted. I got all the old lighters in the house (I’m the only one, on both sides of my family, who smokes in front of everyone), the fiestaware, the silverware, a very large landscape painting with an extremely gaudy gold frame, and this light switch cover.
My grandparents were already pretty old when I was born. She was married before my grandfather and it was a rather big scandal in their small Missouri town when she married my grandfather. My grandparents had three sons, my dad and my uncles. My grandma had two daughters with her first husband. My grandmother and her daughters would get so tan that they used to get turned away from where he was station in Panama. They thought they were locals. My grandmother’s first husband killed himself. I don’t know why. I don’t think anyone in my family knows why or really any details other then he shot himself. Apparently, my great grandmother would tell haters that she couldn’t think of a better woman to marry her son.
I love my grandmother. My dad doesn’t speak of her too oftem, but she seemed like a BAMF. She was tough, she didn’t take shut from anyone, and she hand quilted. If you don’t know how hard hand quilting is, grab a sock, a sowing needle and some thread and hand stich the opening close. Now, multiply that by a billion and include decorative stitches and embroidering.
I remember her cookies. Homemade chocolate chip, the absolute best. I remember eating fat, blue grapes off their grapevines and splitting open pea pods for a snack in my grandma’s garden. I remember sitting in their living room, watching my grandma quilt while my grandpa watched wrestling. I remember they always had Archway frosted oatmeal cookies on the counter and fudgecicles in the freezer.
My grandmother passed away after a long battle with Alzhiemers l, when I was in the 5th grade. I don’t remember much of her downward spiral with alzhiemers. I think my parents tried to shelter me from it as much as possible so I wouldn’t have to see her like that. I do remember that she would walk over to our house every once and a while because she recognized it. It was something that even being lost and confused in a world that happened a very long time ago she recognized.
My mother told me after she died, that most of the time she complained about the man living in her house. See, when my grandma got really bad, she didn’t know who my grandpa was. In her mind, she was still married to her first husband. She would say terrible things to my grandfather. ‘Who are you? You aren’t my husband! I want my husband! This isn’t my house, I want to go home!’ I know she was sick, I don’t hold it against her at all. It just kind feels like someone punched my heart when I think of what that was like for my grandpa. She also told one of my aunts that she used to have two little girls and she wondered what ever happened to them. My aunt told her they probably grew up and had little girls of their own. That seemed to make my grandma feel better and she agreed.
The night she was rushed to the hospital, I know I would never see her again. I layed down in my bed and cried myself to sleep because I knew. I took her death hard. I was so young and I didn’t get enough time with her. I wish I had her in my early 20’s. I would have appreciated her more. Truth is, I didn’t even know her. We never had conversations, that I can remember, other then small talk.
Alzhiemers took what little time I had with her away. I knew half the time I saw her she didn’t know who I was. She liked me, even though she didn’t know me. Looking back, it’s probably because I look like her. I didn’t realize how much, until I came across a photo of her and her first husband. While our hair and eye color and skin tone are dramatically different, from the shape of her eyes down I am my grandma.
Pronounced like Sylvie. She hated her name.