I know I try to keep my blog pretty lighthearted, readers, but today I have some sad news. My grandmother, Irene Murphy Short, passed away this morning. She was an incredible woman. She was married to my grandfather for over 60 years, and had 8 children and 16 grandchildren. And she was ruthless when it came to two things: gin rummy and chocolate.
Well, the gin rummy thing was a bit of a con. She would encourage us to sit down and play a round of rummy at our cottage in Canada on rainy days. There was little to do when it rained, the lawn was soggy… croquet was a no go, you couldn’t sail or roast marshmallows or play soccer. So, it was either scrub the floor or play rummy. The problem was, of course, that she played gin and didn’t tell anyone else. So she would save up all of her cards until she could go out in one turn, slam the cards on the table, laugh, and say, “One day you’ll get the hang of it!” We never did.
My grandmother snow-skied into her 70’s and still received a pension check from when she worked for a northeastern railroad company as a typographer in the 1940’s. Every quarter, she receives a check for seven dollars. Those were the days of pensions, the days when marriages lasted longer than mortgages.
Friends often asked how my grandparents stayed healthy for so long, and I credit the church. Every day, they headed up to St. John the Baptist Church, only a few blocks away, in their station wagon. Sure, a Catholic mass is a work out (sit, kneel, stand sit, stand, etc.), but more importantly, they would go out for breakfast every day. When, you ask? Before church. Oh yea, and after church! They had Tim Horton’s before, and McDonald’s after. I may not believe in the power of prayer to help maintain a long life, but I think they put something magic in those McGriddles… or as my grandfather calls them, “hotcakes.”
Irene loved the color purple, and when the grocery boys would help her to her car in the 1990’s, she always thought she received special attention because of her coat. Purple, floral patterns, bright greens and pinks… I think she had 20 cardigans in each array. And I have so many memories of her in her home, in the front room of the house she lived in for over 60 years. She sits in a purple sweater, nibbling a Hershey’s bar, while I play the piano for her. Poorly. And she loves every minute of it.
I will be wearing purple all weekend, because purple was my grandma’s favorite color, and it is, coincidentally, mine as well. And she loved chocolate, so I’ll be eating a lot of that. And I’m going to try to laugh a lot, because she taught me to keep my head up, even was I was sad. When I would get bullied in school, she would say, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” And I would smile. And she’d give me a hug. And maybe some chocolate.