Thursday, October 17, 2013

The ghost of Joyce (A.K.A. ugly pants always come back in style)

I saw the ghost of my grandmother in the grocery store today.  She was in the form of another lady, no doubt someone else's grandma, shuffling along with her husband as a steady arm.  I cried right there in between the jams and the specialty cheeses because I instantly missed her.

"Fake" Joyce at the store was so cute; she was wearing a polka dot sweater with matching green skinny jeans (as skinny as they make them for hip grannys) and some gold sneakers.  My grandma had all of those items in one form and they are such fond memories that I have of her.  I thought it was cute back in the day when my grandma bought clothes from the Gap.

I was surprised that I had such an immediate reaction to Fake Joyce.  For the first time, I saw a vision of myself 45 years into the future.  I have always imagined how I might grow up and slowly turn into a version of Joyce, but it was fascinating to see a visual reminder of my future.  I am happy to report that my future self is still wearing polka dots.

Most of my memories of Joyce's later years are not very positive.  She went from depression, to angry, to a sublime state of dementia.  I had to say to her, "Well yeah, Grandma, my back would hurt too if I slept most of the day."  Her angry period was when the decision was made to sell their house and downsize into a senior apartment.  I will never forget the stories about how she would stomp outside and pull the "For Sale" sign out of the yard, or when she snuck out to the garage full of bags for donation to pull out the ugliest pants you've ever seen that my mom constantly tried to throw away.

Today's sighting of Fake Joyce brought back so many of the fun and positive memories of my grandma that had been overshadowed by the later years.  What a revelation.  Suddenly I remembered her metallic sneakers, her love of Regis and Kathie Lee, and the way that she danced all of the time in a way that was slightly embarrassing to the rest of us.  I remembered that she always had cut up cantaloupe (I will never be adult enough to spend time on this), and listened to Harry Carey on the radio.  I recalled that even in the later years when she didn't know who I was, she and my grandpa would still squeeze each others' hands to each syllable of the phrase "See how much I love you?".

And for the first time, I was less worried about my memory, and more excited about the fact that I am destined to wear polka dot sweaters and embarrass loved ones with my dancing for decades.  And, for the record, I still have those ugly pants.

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