Monday, December 31, 2012

Marielle: 1915-2012

My grandmother was a walking piece of history.  In our world of modern conveniences, it amazes me of all the things she had seen.  Her family was the first to own a car and when I look back on what must have been a monumental event in her life, I smile to think of her, years later, reading books on her Kindle with ease, flipping through channels on her satellite TV and connecting with loved ones via a laptop computer and Skype. 

She grew up during the Great Depression which formed a lot of whom she was.  She learned to do with less, avoid credit cards and to help family members and friends as she was able.

I would smile as she chastised my mother for buying new clothes and I immediately thought of her three large closets that were far from empty.  She would scrutinize, but never criticize, my collection of shoes.  Once in a while she would call me Imelda Marcos however, my love of shoes can be blamed solely on her.  I remember my favorite childhood hiding place in her house on Granite Street was in her closet among the glittering rows of shoes adorned with bows and other accessories.

She fell in love with a scrappy puppy during Mom’s Meals on Wheels route.  Needless to say, Grandma is the reason why my parents are still “fostering” this dog five years later.

I will miss my grandmother.  The most unusual color of her grey-green eyes, like the stormy New England sea.  I will miss holding her hand and taking an afternoon nap with her in her room.  I will miss her stories of days long gone.

Marielle Conon lived a full life and one of much success.  An essay by Bessie Anderson Stanley reminds me of her life story:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.

Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children.

Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task.

Who has never lacked appreciation of the Earth’s beauty or failed to express it.

Who has left the world better than he found it.

Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul.

Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had.

Whose life was an inspiration.

Whose memory a benediction.

As we gather today, although we will miss my grandmother’s physical presence, let’s celebrate her life as it was fully lived.  Let’s share our memories so she continues to live in all of us.

(Read at her funeral on December 27, 2012; Peabody, Massachusetts)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bathing Beauties

The cottages lining the lake in Maine were on small lots.  It was easy to see into your neighbor’s home from the side living room window or even the attic.  My grandmother was not a full-time Maine resident but spent most of the summer months in the Pine Tree State away from the heat of Boston.  Phyllis and Bill Carson, the Polish couple in the Christmas red cottage, became her summer buddies.  Meals were shared, cards were played and Phyllis filled everyone in on the latest lakeside gossip.
One special ritual between my grandmother and Phyllis occurred each evening after supper.  The lake was empty of splashing children and all forms of boats.  The surface of the water was calm and glassy.  Grandma and Phyllis would snap on a garish rubber swim cap adorned with colorful floppy flowers and emerge from their respective homes decked out in one-piece skirted bathing suits.  Each would secure a life preserver belt around her plump waist and wade into the depths of the lake.  There they would simply float together, talking and laughing until they became pruned.

The only pictures I have are my memories of the two floating friends…the bathing beauties of Bauneg Beg and it makes me smile when I think of them.

(RIP Phyllis 12/19/2012 and Marielle 12/21/2012)