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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday Grandma

Today my grandmother is 100 years old. The picture above was taken when she was seventeen. I don't know nearly enough about her as I should and that's a damn shame. I do know she emigrated to the United States through Ellis Island and her name is on the wall. She and my grandfather who died in the early 80's became citizens in the 1960's. I do know My grandmother worked in a sweat shop most of her life. I do know hers was not an easy life, living through the depression with six children and having to bury two of them. I do know she beat cancer, and a stroke tried to beat her, crippling some of her fingers. Even with her limited mobility she still cooked every night and growing up in Brooklyn Sunday afternoon dinners were the culinary highlight of my week.

I learned how to mix Pepsi with wine, make a gravy with meatballs and roast beef with sliced potatoes and onions from watching her. I loved the way she crocheted beautiful lace tablecloths, table runners and doilies. No matter how I tried my hand at that skill I always fell short. The only thing I could crochet is a scarf. She cross-stitched beautiful framed wall-hangings until her eyes gave out and her fingers could no longer hold the needle. I enjoy cross-stitching too although my eyes have made it harder to focus on the small squares and my hands are having a hard time holding the needle as well. For her birthday I decided I would cross-stitch something for her. I picked a subject she loves, cats, and a project I thought I could easily accomplish. The "weekender" project took me seven weeks to complete. My hand would cramp up after an hour and some days I couldn't even hold the needle. Threading it was a chore. I finally finished it.

I had hoped to hand-deliver it to her at her birthday party, but Mother Nature had other plans, so instead I mailed it. Non-stop snow in Brooklyn has made it an impossible venture. The temperatures have not risen above the freeze mark since their first huge storm in December. Mountains of snow remain five feet high and parking is near impossible. The final straw came earlier this week when I heard about the impending ice storm. I checked the ten-day weather forecast daily and determined it would not be wise to drag my family up there. The only thing worse than driving through a snow or ice storm on the interstate is arriving in Brooklyn to find there's no place to put my car.

I hope my grandmother understands. I plan to see her in the spring -- hopefully the city will have thawed by then.

Happy Birthday Grandma!


  1. How lovely! It is so nice you treasure her so much!

    My paternal grandmother died before I was born. Almost a year to the day. My maternal grandmother died when I was 12. I hated going to her house and found it boring. What a punk I was! She would be 101 this year.

  2. Lisa, I never even visited my paternal's grandmother's apartment. My mother said it was because I chewed on her couch arm when I was 2 and wasn't allowed back. I don't know if it's true or not, all parties are gone...Too many regrets now that I'm older.

  3. I loved this tribute to your 100 year old grandmother! You show a resemblance to her in the picture. Maybe you will be lucky enough to carry her longivity gene. I read carefully all that she did, in hopes that maybe I could adapt my lifestyle so that I could be as lucky. She was a hard worker and I think that was her secret. She kept her body going.

    You are right, snow time is no time to be in NYC. Parking must be insane right now.