The one thing that I can vividly remember while growing up about my maternal grandmother was her house dress. Grandma had several styles, those that you wore just around the house cleaning, the ones for family at home, slightly nicer and then the ones you wore out in public for fancier affairs. All of these dresses had one major thing in common; they were a basic sack with sleeves, shapeless, comfortable and usually covered with an enormous apron that covered the majority of the dress. The pockets of the apron held hard candy and Hershey kisses that my grandmother was not to have, she had Diabetes and candy was a big no-no.
The shoes that went with the above outfit would be flat and either a beat up every day shoe or something with a little more polish. The stockings accompanying the outfit would be heavy knee highs for every day wear or thigh highs with big white garters for special occasions.
Grandma was 55 when I was born. My memories of her seem to be from when I was about 8 and they had moved into the first house they had ever owned. I can remember the previous house they lived in but just short bursts of images that never seem to hold people and are probably stirred by family photos. I never knew her when she was a spry young thing, by the time I came around the Diabetes had done it’s damage, glaucoma was robbing her sight and her hearing was all but lost. When she had enough of listening to the noise she would reach up and turn off her hearing aides, calmly seeming to watch TV in her rocking chair in the living room, oblivious to the chaos around her. You would about scare her half to death when you tapped on her shoulder to tell her something.
I compare her with her daughter, my mother, bursting out the door in her sneakers and jeans headed off for lunch or to work at the hospital gift shop. At 75, mom is still a spit fire. The Diabetes stopped at grandma. The house dress generation is long gone; mom is the new version of grandmother, even without grandkids.
I look at my generation, now having grandkids to play with and I know, their memories of us will be quite different than those of my own grandparents. We are healthier and more active and if the trend continues imagine the grandparents 50 years from now.