Monday, March 17, 2008

Think there are pantyhose in Heaven?

(Photo: Grandma Florence with her two sons, George and Bob (Mark's dad)

When we suddenly lost Grandma Florence (my husband's grandma) in 2002, it was a big hit to the family; she was the matriarch, but moreso, she was the heart of the family. She was a real character, born in one of the toughest parts of the country (Michigan's upper peninsula, which makes our winter this year look like a cake-walk).

I was happy that there was an open casket, as I would have a chance to say goodbye. She looked so beautiful in her crimson velvet dress, and it took me back to the only other day she wore it.

It was a winter Michigan wedding for her grandson, Derek and his fiancee, Laurie. Eighty-year-old Florence was in her glory that night, nearly outshining the bride in her regal attire, perfect for her status in the family. The reception was at a country club, and Gram felt pretty special. She was not a fancy woman at all; putting on airs was not her style, but she enjoyed playing dress-up that night. And although she had done "the worm" at Mark's brothers wedding 20 years prior, this time Gram stayed vertical.

I have to digress a little to say that Grandma Florence and I got off to a rocky start; I think she felt a little threatened by me in the beginning. We both had powerful personalities, and while I respected her, I did not bend over backwards to please her. (Remember, my grandparents were all gone by the time I was 12, so I really had no frame of reference for family heirarchy and the status a grandma often holds.) One sunny summer day, I stopped at Mark's parents' house when Gram was visiting from Michigan and found her sitting on the patio. Mark went to get us drinks, and she said to me, "You know, he's never going to marry you." Taken aback, I was speechless. She continued, "You are just one of the many girlfriends Mark has had. He's not ready to settle down, so you are likely wasting your time." As you can imagine, that offended me, and years later, when I got my engagement ring, you can bet I was more than happy to show it to her. (She didn't mention anything about her comment, and I didn't either.)

When Kyle was a baby, Gram and I had a couple of run-ins over old-school vs. new school childrearing, and sometimes we hurt each other's feelings, but we managed to settle in to a comfortable, mutual respect for one another over the years.

The night of the wedding, Mark's mom noticed Gram walking with baby-steps and thought it odd that a woman of her height (5'10") would be taking such small steps. Gram whispered that her pantyhose were falling down and that she was heading to the restroom! I told you Gram was not a fancy woman. These were possibly the first pair of pantyhose she had every worn; she had no clue that she should have put them on before, rather than after she put her girdle on. Her fancy dress could not help the fact that her poker-straight frame would not hold her pantyhose up.

I ran into Gram in the Ladies room, cursing her "damned hose!" She ask if I would help her pull her hose up. [Awkward.] Regardless, imagine me, on my knees in front of Florence with her fancy dress hiked up to her waist as I tugged and tugged her pantyhose up from her ankles all the way up to her ribs (and remember, I said she was tall, so that was pretty far!) This was no easy feat, but Gram and I laughed our way through it. Each of us laughed until we cried and had to catch our breath. (Imagine the looks on the faces of ladies coming in to use the restroom and hearing us in there!) Finally settled, Gram and I powdered our noses and headed back to the party, her dignity intact, along with her pantyhose. It was a bonding time for Gram and me, and we laughed about it again in later years.

Seeing Gram in the casket wearing her beautiful dress, I was only a little sad. I smiled as I patted her hand before saying good-bye...

...because I know there are no pantyhose in heaven.


  1. What a sweet moment. I am glad you had such a happy memory to fall back on during your grief.
    I really enjoyed your post. Reminded me of Hoss' Great-Grandmother, she hated me with a passion, I stole her #1 grandson (which she informed me she did only call him that because he was first born). Bobby and I had only been out on two dates and one day she found my house, walked in on her lil cane and told me she would beat me with it, if I ever broke his heart. I did not know whether to tell him about it or not. So I chose not to. Years later when I got pregnant with Hoss she asked if we were going to name him "broken rubber" because there was no way Bobby would have a child with me. LOL and my last tid-bit of that evil ol' woman....she wanted Bobby to purchase her camper, she wanted him to pay her $1.00 for it, so when she died she would know it was his fair and square. So we went over there Bobby handed her a dollar, she turned to me, handed me the dollar and says "When you guys get divorced, the camper is his, because I just paid you for it. So when he wisens up and sends you down the road kicking rocks, the camper belongs to him"
    LOL She is a classy lady....let me tell ya!

  2. Wow. Kinda opinionated, hey? I guess it's safe to say she's never been to charm school?

  3. Oh! I am sorry that you have lost her. I wonder if she said that to you for YOUR benefit - maybe she saw love in your eyes and didn't want that man to hurt you....or maybe she was jealous of his attention and trying to scare you away. Hmmmmm, do you know if she was ever around the other girlfriends? Maybe it was she that cleared the way for you. Any way, again, I am sorry for your loss.


  4. Honestly, I think she had seen many girls and knew that I was special to him; I do think she was a little worried about losing status with Mark (she had no worries, of course; he adored her). She is missed, but not far from our hearts.

  5. Oh i am sorry for your lost. She sounds like a wonderful woman. So many great memories you have shared.

    LOL at the pantyhouse line. :)

  6. I admit, my eyes teared up at this story. Amazing to see how, as you said, strong personalities can adjust as others enter the picture, even end up respectful and loving.

    I have a slightly similar story -- my DH is from an extremely loving, close-knit family, as am I. But they are quiet and calm whereas we are boisterous and gregarious. His two brothers were already married and I learned, rather quickly, of the pecking order of the sisters-in-law, which was unconsciously enforced by the in-laws. The alpha SIL could do no wrong -- and I didn't get along with her. I made a couple comments to my hubby about her, saying that she was a bitch and I wasn't going to tolerate her treatment of me; he, instead, defended her. BIG MISTAKE. So, rather than launching into a major defensive, I let the cards play out..... sure enough, the Alpha skipped out and left two toddlers to the care of my BIL. Meanwhile, our older son was born, then diagnosed as autistic. I didn't skip out -- it cemented my marriage and made me a saint in their eyes. Since then, I almost walk on water, they've learned a lesson (subconsciously), and everyone is respected. The subjugated SIL, too, has emerged in her personality.


  7. What a great post. I am so sorry about about her loss. I recently lost my grandfather in December, but was unable to say goodbye because his funeral was in Poland and I just couldn't make it. It's wonderful that you got to say goodbye. Love the pantyhose line, and I'm sure she did too!

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog. Nice to meet you.

    I detest pantyhose, by the way. Simply detest them.

  9. I love this story. A good reminder that relationships don't just "magically" start when you become related to you. They take give and take on both sides. Obviously, you both profited from the relationship.


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