In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and my maternal grandmother, who passed away from breast cancer when I was 8 and she was 60 or almost 60.
My mother's mother always seemed to me to be a very quiet person. I don't remember her voice, I remember her presence. Grandpa always sat in his chair in his living room, well positioned to see the TV and the door where people would come in. I remember Grandma seemed to spend her time in the kitchen. The kitchen had a fun wallpaper on the walls with cooking utensils as part of the motif.
She had one of those enameled wood and metal tables that had leaves that pulled out to make it bigger and two chairs with bent chrome legs. She also had a stove from the late 40s or early 50s. I think the tile was a speckled tile and maybe the cabinets were pink, but I cannot remember that clearly now at all.
What I remember most is waking up in the morning and going downstairs to breakfast in that kitchen. For some reason, I always remember going to breakfast, but not necessarily what I ate. I think there was eggs and cereal and toast, and juice in small glasses.
I remember Grandma making breakfast or lunch for us, but not what we ate. But I just remember her quietness and letting us be the kids we were. We would do a lot of dress up in my mother's and aunts' old clothes upstairs, hide in the lilac bush outside because it conveniently had an open space in the middle, once you navigated the spindly branches that surrounded the space enclosed in green. I think the grown ups knew we were in there, but chose not to pay attention to the fact that we were. I remember the heady smell of what I think were large spirea plants that flanked the porch step.
I remember Grandma doing laundry and hanging up the clothes on the clothesline and running between the clothes as she hung them. It seemed she went about her daily business, but made sure we were fed and bathed when we needed to be. I don't ever remember a cross word from her, I think Grandpa handled that if we got into stuff we weren't supposed to.
I think Grandma was also quiet about her cancer, though the perception of an eight-year old is probably not the most reliable sort of information. I don't know that she let on to us grandkids much about it. And maybe that was the best way, so I could remember how she was quietly there, but taking care of us when we needed it.