Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dorothy Edith

I have sat down many times over the last week to express through writing my feelings about my grandma. But no matter the number of tries, I can’t find the right words, or enough words to describe my love and admiration for her. Even now, every word, every sentence feels inadequate. Dorothy Edith Sturges was not just another person on the street, easily describable with a few simple phrases.  She was so much more. Her personality was all encompassing, her heart big enough to hold everyone. When she’d grace you with her presence, you could feel it in your own heart, warming your own soul.

When I think about my grandma I think of a clear rain bonnet tied gently under her chin. I think of the floral ceramic teacup filled with straight black coffee. I think of the timeless yet elegant watch strapped to her wrist, the delicate earrings always dangling from her ears. I picture the nail file on the table next to her chair, ready to fix any slight mishap with her manicure. And I think of the green metal pipe, straight from Grandpa’s shop, used to wrap the Krum Kake every Christmas.

My grandma was the epitome of elegance and grace that I strive for every day.  She taught me the significance of etiquette—from how to set a formal table, to being properly handed off from my dad to my husband during my wedding ceremony. She demonstrated the golden rule each and every day—never judging negatively or speaking critically of others.  She took pride in her appearance—Even on days spent at home, she wouldn’t be caught without her hair curled, her lipstick meticulously applied and a freshly washed sweater set adorning her delicate body.

When I think about my grandma, I think of the colors she would rarely be without—pink, turquoise, and gold. I recall the stack of novels next to her chair, waiting to be read or already devoured. She and I were in the habit of exchanging books when we’d come across a particularly good one; a simple tradition I already miss.

My grandma had the utmost patience, contrary to our fast-paced world.  She found joy in perfectly decorating detailed Christmas cookies with tweezers, in quietly completing the most difficult thousand-piece puzzles, in peacefully recalling stories of her past to anyone that would inquire. She showed me that a quiet, simple life could be the most enjoyed life imaginable.

Grandma’s high school yearbooks recently made reappearance, and in one of them she stated she’d like to be a housewife when she grew up. I’m glad to know her dream was fulfilled, and I truly believe she was destined for the role. Whether in the kitchen cooking up a storm, or offering wisdom and a listening ear, she did the job flawlessly. No matter where our lives took us over the years, Grandma was the constant that held the family together. She was always the one everyone wanted to see, everyone wanted to please. She made you feel cared for and welcome—and you’d never leave her home with an empty stomach.

When I think of my grandma, I think of the cream puffs purchased from Thriftway down the street, and of the special pink, green and yellow mints she kept in a glass jar in the dining room. I remember joining her on walks to the post office—always with the “mail bag” in tote and my personal excitement of opening the lockbox for her. I picture the blue and white dishes she gifted to me when I went off to college—While other students were eating out of Tupperware, I was drinking from a porcelain teacup in true Dorothy-style. And mostly, I think of the hours spent organizing her yearly garage sale and being privy to the most precious gift of all: underneath the dusty household items were countless memories and stories ready to be recalled. And I was all ears.

My grandma was so much more than what I’ve put forth—She was gentle, classy and kind. She was an excellent cook—making grandpa decadent clam chowder despite her own allergy to shell fish. She was creative—a tole painter, embroiderer, seamstress, cake decorator. She kept traditions alive through her Norwegian baking—Lefse, Krum Kake and Fattigmand Buckles. She was polite and graceful. A treasure and a blessing. She was a fountain of wisdom, a quiet presence, an added warmth to any room.

I long to see her gentle, lipsticked smile and her twinkling eyes one more time. And yet, although the last page of my grandma’s life may have turned, I know her spirit will linger on forever.