I can't believe it's been nine years since my grandma passed away. I still have clothes from back then! Hey-oh! But seriously folks. I wanted to do something nice for the dead broad because she sincerely meant a lot to me. She was the only person in all of my childhood that liked me. My family loved me, but they didn't really like to be around me or spend time with me. Grandma did. She used to call me her helper, but I liken myself more to a lapdog. She taught me how to read, how to draw barns, and how to box-step. She showed me Shirley Temple, Lawrence Welk, and that Pecan Dream is the best flavor of ice cream. In short, she taught me to be an old lady. To this day my mouth still waters when I hear someone talk about thimbles.
I looked for any and every excuse to be at her house. There were even two periods in my childhood when I was lucky enough to live with her: once when my dad chased us out of our trailer with a gun, and again when my mom went into rehab. Those events should have sad or angry feelings attached to them. They don't. All I can remember is how I was beside myself with excitement because I got to move into Grandma's. I slept in her room in a twin bed across the room from her twin bed. It was just like "I Love Lucy"! Actually, the whole situation reminds me of a realistic "I Love Lucy" reunion; 40 years later, Ricky's dead and Little Ricky's a drunken fuck-up so he sends his gay kid to live with his Grandma Lucy. I'd watch that! Anyhow, those were some of the happiest times of my life. It was during those periods that she got me into gameshows, scrapbooking, and rice pudding. What if that never happened!?!
As years went on my mom got herself a little more together and we moved out on our own. I finally made a couple friends my age at school, and Grandma started suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's. Eventually, she couldn't live alone and had to be moved to a care facility. Later, it got so bad she could no longer walk, speak, or eat because the Alzheimer's took over those parts of her brain. On September 22nd, nine years ago, she died of Alzheimer's.
But that's not how she'd want to be remembered and that's not how I intend to remember her. And even though she trained me to be an old biddy (and I'm so grateful for that) that's not how I'll remember her either. Grandma made me feel completely safe when nobody else did. That's very important when you're little and weird. So thank you, Grandma Irene, for making me feel safe. It's saved my life more than once, I'm sure. I love you!
Some photos of the lady.
Still a teenager in Alberta, Canada. Feeding a deer, as you do.
IRENE EMERSON: CAREER GIRL. My grandma worked part-time as a phone operator and a seamstress.
Birthed from a womb, Cole is a human being with feelings and thoughts. He is one of those writer/performer types and makes up one half of "Jeffery & Cole" of television's "Jeffery & Cole Casserole." Check out the TV show on logoonline.com or check him out on youtube.com/user/coleywog