Ho-Hos, Halloween and happiness

She loves to keep Ho-Ho treats in her refrigerator – chocolate is good at night, she says.

She appreciates the beauty of pairing beer in a chilled glass mug with a good piece of pizza.

She loves to decorate for the holidays – her houses and apartments have been packed to the gills for years with every kind of doodad imaginable. Halloween is especially exciting, only second to Christmas. Oh, and Easter, and Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day, and the Fourth of July, and St. Patrick’s Day . . .

She doesn’t have a hard time telling it like it is . . . she once even yelled at a police officer who was attempting to give her a ticket. Sure, she said, she may have gone through a red light . . . but dang it, she knew the cop’s grandma and he should have had some sort of respect and loyalty!

She makes a mean pork chop, her fried chicken is legendary and she was the first person to introduce me to oyster stew.

She has always been a great homemaker and gardener, with an incredible talent for fostering indoor plants. I can attest to the strength of her abilities – some of the plants in my house are off-shoots of growth she started many, many years ago and even I can’t kill them.

She has always been an impeccable dresser, taking great pride in her outward appearance, “because if you look good, everyone will think you feel good, even if you don’t.”

She has long been a talented craftsperson – her crocheted blankets are in many rooms of my house, her doilies are on furniture in at least three locations of my abode, and her beautifully embroidered hand towels (one for each day of the week) hang on specifically installed dowels in my kitchen.

She has beautiful handwriting that has historically graced well-timed cards sent through the mail for every single birthday.

She finds cigarettes to be well-earned treats, politicians to be over-bearing windbags, and good looking men to be a necessary component for a well-rounded and functioning society.

She worked hard throughout her life and occupational effort is always noticed in others who try.

She loved the same man for decades — and although it’s been a number of years since his passing, there’s nary a conversation in which the name “Mark” isn’t referenced at least once.

She thinks I’m interesting, so she’s an obvious genius.

And she loves her family unconditionally. If she doesn’t like what someone did or didn’t do, she’ll say so . . . but she’s the first to move on and say, “God bless ‘em anyway.”

She’s our Grandma Cassie.

She’s my Grandma Cassie.

Sure, we have no biological ties to one another. But who needs genetic connectors when fondness is mutual and long standing?

She agreed to become my grandma about 30 years ago, as I frequented her house with her grandson. She didn’t care that I brought baggage to the table or complicated that grandson’s life . . . she accepted me and my family as we were, opened her home and her heart.

When I married that grandson, she stood next to me for a photograph and whispered, “Be good to each other and you will probably make it.”

When I needed a grandparent, she was always just down the street, waiting with a mason jar full of iced tea (or vodka if necessary) and words of wisdom.

Unfortunately, we don’t live that close to one another now. I’m here and she’s in an assisted living facility in Tilden – where she seems to be happy and healthy, although she’s no longer “on her own.”

A few days ago, we had the great opportunity of sharing a birthday with the 80-something bombshell. My in-laws drove her to our neck of the woods, so we were able to host her in our house as we celebrated yet another one of her milestones.

She talked of how she suspected Ho-Ho’s were mysteriously missing from her refrigerator – my husband promptly ran to the store to stock her up before she left.

She noticed the artifacts of her life that she’s already passed on to us and was mystified as to the reasoning we love them.

She talked about the Halloween decorations in her room, reminisced about the dozens of holiday totes she no longer has space to store and described her offer to decorate the entire senior facility herself if need be.

We laughed at her frankness, cherished her insight and relished her humor.

It was a birthday of Grandma Cassie.

It was a day of Ho-Ho’s, Halloween and happiness.

And like her, it couldn’t have been any better.




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