Death is a hard topic to speak about. I’d argue that it’s hard to write about as well, but I’m one of those people who thinks that writing about those types of topics is helpful and speeds up the healing process. On Friday, my grandmother passed away. Although she is no longer with us, the memory of her will live on in our minds and hearts. For me, there are always a few specific things I associate with each loved one on in my life. Whether it’s a scent, a certain food or a hilarious holiday memory, each of these things will always remind me of that person.
The first thing I will always associate with my Nana is the scent of Trident gum. Growing up, getting to chew gum was this odd and exciting event. My mother hated gum, so it was rarely in the house. When my brother and I would spent days playing at my Nana’s house in the summer, we would always raid her cabinets to see which flavors of Trident gum she had for us. I distinctly remember the smell- the spicy cinnamon or cool spearmint- and how I always looked forward to it. Each time I smell or chew a stick of Trident gum, I will be reminded of my Nana.
Speaking of raiding her cabinets, I still laugh to this day remembering a specific time my cousin Nicole and I made her “soup”. I put the word in quotations because the concoction we made was far from soup, let alone an edible mixture. On this particular hot summer day, we ventured out to her garden to find a base for our soup. My Nana grew rhubarb in her backyard, and we loved the almost-sour taste of it. We bit the roots, sucked out the juice and spit it into a container (we were probably 10 years old here, so excuse the grossness). We added some water for the base and then added all our other ingredients- aka anything and everything we found in her kitchen. This included, but was not limited to, various flavored extracts and spices like cinnamon. We mixed everything together and presented it to her, not expecting her to actually try it. But she did. She took a couple spoonfuls and told us it was delicious. What a trooper.
By now you can tell my Nana was a good sport. One of the other fun activities she let us do was give her makeovers. My cousins and I would go through her purse and take her powder and cake it on her face and apply her lipstick heavily from the tube. We’d try on old jewels from her jewelry box upstairs and laugh as we saw the finish product. The poor woman probably had to take 3 showers just to wipe all the makeup off, but we had a blast. I still remember the scent of her pink lipstick and face powder to this day.
The last thing I will always remember about my Nana was her sense of humor. I’d like to think that I got some of my sarcastic wit from her. She loved to roll her eyes when her husband (my Papa) talked too much or make offhand comments about the characters on the soap operas we would watch when nothing else was on TV. She was very petite- just like me- so we would try on each other’s rings to see who had the smaller fingers. Nana always had certain sayings and jokes she would recite when I visited her, so whenever I hear those repeated by someone else, I will think of her.
It will be hard to see Derek Jeter (her favorite baseball player), complete a crossword puzzle in the newspaper (one of her favorite hobbies) or see someone enjoying black coffee (she drank many cups a day) without remembering my Nana. But I’m going to relish in those memories and smile, knowing she is looking down on all of us.