She was baptized Ernestine.....still don't know how anyone could name this female ERNESTINE! Surely she should have been a Victoria or Joanna or something far more suitable for such a woman.
She was a real lady, femininity at its best, always dressed beautifully, in heels (she was barely 5 feet in her stocking feet), jewelry (costume jewelry), full makeup, and her wig(s) perfectly styled. She wore them because her once red hair thinned drastically as she aged, and being that she was a "bit" vain wigs did the trick. Nama had a special fragrance that was all her own. Never overwhelming, but gentle and subtle and sweet. You couldn't buy her perfume fragrance because she mixed fragrances (and not the dime store brands!). Once, many months after her death I was in the Jewel, pulling two carts, (one for groceries and two of our little ones and the other for the other two little ones) when suddenly I was surrounded by that unmistakable sweet fragrance. There was NO ONE around me, nothing that could have been the source. I'm sure it was Nama, letting me know she was near me, with me.
Christmas was her favorite time of year. She lavished her grandchildren with beautiful gifts, ones that my parents couldn't afford. I can still see the black and white herring bone checked winter coat with a black velvet collar. A white fur hat and muff accompanied it.
Nama was also a real character. She lied about her age for as long as I can remember, and for most of her life she got away with it. She worked as a switchboard operator for a long time. I remember calling her one day, and she was away from the "board." I made the HUGE mistake of leaving the message "just tell her that her granddaughter called"! Never did that again. She didn't want anyone to think she had a granddaughter who was an ADULT, so she made up some bogus story when the message was related to her that it must have been her neighbor's granddaughter, because SHE had no granddaughter old enough to be calling. Now, I'm quite sure the person she relayed that to knew full well that she indeed DID have an adult granddaughter.
One time when Jim was driving her home in his somewhat older car (with a bit of a hole in the floor) she asked him if she should drag her foot to stop the car. She smoked and chewed Beeman's gum constantly. Hmmm probably where I got the gum chewing desire from. She couldn't say a tongue twister to save her life. "Rubber baby bumpers" brought the most hilarious versions and brought hysterics to all of us. I can still see her trying to say it, concentrating so hard, yet never mastering it even one time through.
She was widowed at an early age and raised her children alone. She never drove; she took public transportation to and from work, walked to church (yes, in her high heels!) Nama worked so hard until the age of 72 when her age was "discovered" by her employee. A year later she became ill with lung cancer. A year after her diagnosis she succumbed to the disease. I was present when she died, and I remember it vividly.
I am ever so grateful for the gifts she brought to me......not the packages but the gifts of unconditional love, faith, acceptance, strength, humor and so much more. Heaven is a happier place with her in it.