Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Grammy Storm?

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of my mother's birth. One thing she left us with is her observation that there was a big storm every year of her life within a week of her birthday. As thunder rolled, lightning flashed and hail clattered on the windows today, I thought, maybe this is the Grammy Storm.

The commotion echoed her approach to life, which was not to sit back and contemplate things, but to stir the pot and kick up a fuss. She had two sisters and was always on the outs with one or the other. My grandmother's solicitous letters to my father - "Now son, don't work too hard" - made her blood boil. She did battle with shopkeepers to get the best bargains and with tradesmen to make sure they fixed things right. When she was in the hospital at the end of her life and a doctor asked if she knew where she was, she snapped, "Folsom Prison!"

Having worked at Wanamaker's in Philadelphia as a young women, she knew retail lore inside out and was a demon shopper later when we lived in East Orange near several blocks of department stores and specialty shops. My daughter Audrey has inherited the shopping genes, as witness her early morning foray into a Target store today in Seattle to plunder the Liberty of London treasures.

Audrey is not convinced that this week's nor'easter was the true Grammy Storm. She may be right, because a few years ago the weather turned from 80 degrees just before her birthday anniversary to a raging sleet storm.

We will each be lighting a candle tomorrow in her memory, in honor of her feistiness and the clout she exerted within her sphere. My late sister Jane and I used to joke that under different circumstances, she could have taken over and run a small South American nation with no trouble. As it was, she only had a household with four children over whom to wield power. I'm glad I was one of them.



Blogger Rob said...

such a wonderful story...thank you for sharing Bernice!

5:09 AM  
Blogger olddoc said...

I always anticipate the snowstorm of the year on Palm Sunday or Easter.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernice, I think that many of our mothers were cut from the same cloth and taught us that "if it is worth having, it certainly is worth fighting for". One of the mantras that I hold dearly even today.We, too, celebrate "Mydear"s birthday(what we call our mother)by lighting candles and saying special prayers.My mother would have been 110 in 2009. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.
Margaret A. Lewis

11:09 AM  
Blogger A. Robert said...

Bernice, Thanks for sharing your "Grammy" story. My deceased wife, Eloise, had an early March birthday, March 3rd. For 35 years we struggled with celebrating her birthday in the midst of a snow or ice storm, often having to cancel or defer planned parties. Eloise's survival instincts were powerful, even on her dying day she wanted to go home to be with what was familiar to her. Sadly she died before we could make the arrangements. Perhaps there is something connecting the weather to the personality or maybe we make the connection in retrospection.

5:54 PM  

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