I find my life is truly blessed. I live in a spirit of thanks. When my husband walks home from work and asks me how my day was, he always likes to add how lucky I am. I think he’s right.
My road to where I am has been filled with bumps and jumps — beautiful, sometimes heart wrenching, highs and lows. Today, I look at the highs.
My grandmother, called YiaYia (Yiy yah), the most beautiful woman in the world, told me to find the good, find the positive.
When we were little, we’d spend a week, a weekend or a day at Yia Yia’s house. She had rosy cheeks, her hair done and she smelled like baby powder.
As we drove up to her curb in south Pasadena, we had troubles parking the car every time because the curb was too high to open the car door. My father would drive forward, us three kids would climb out, then we’d wait on the sidewalk while dad would park.
We’d walk up the sloped driveway to the front screen door. The five steps infront of the house were painted green. The dogs would jump and bark, the screen door would crack. Maxie. Maxie. I noticed the funniest long shoot drop mailbox, a chiming door bell and then there she was, Yia Yia, in all her smiling, sweet, come on it, glad you made it loving glory.
Is there anything more wonderful in this world than a grandmother for a child?
I remember if we would visit and she was ill, she’d stay in bed. She’d invite us kids on top of the comforter and she’d hug us. I remember looking at her arms. Her skin was smooth as silk with nice brown and pink spots on it. I’d ask what they were and she’d laugh and cover them. She said they were age spots.
Her voice was always soothing. When my dad talked to her she used to look at him with listening ears and a smile. She’d say Ah, come on, Nicky, when she knew someone was teasing her, and then she’d laugh her lovely laugh.
She liked to apologize for her house disorder that I never saw and she loved girly things. I remember she had two alarm clocks and two big lamps with curious chain pulls to turn them on and off.
Her husband, Jack, my grandfather had passed away for at least 10 years but his clock was still on his night table. On the walls were framed pictures of ballerinas. On the pink and white cotton bedspread, she had her L.A. Times and her glasses. At the foot of her bed on her dresser, she had the TV turned on low. She liked to watch 60 Minutes.
She liked to write too. She liked Los Angeles. She’d write long detailed letters to her mom who was still back in Pennsylvania about the people she would meet at the Hollywood parties in the 50s, 60s, 70s.
She was lovely because she was. It was her essence.
When she passed, I was ready for it. I am sure I cried but it was through subtle acceptance and love that I knew she was ready to go.
If I had to sum up how beautiful the world is, I would say, it was when I laid my head on my Yia Yia’s chest and she would just hold me and caress my hair. It was as natural as birth, life and death.
If I had to sum up what she taught me in life, she’d say Julie, find the positive, find the good.