19. Gramma Rosa (gone but never forgotten)
She’s no longer with us, but she will never be gone. She was a character so big and vibrant that no one playhouse or script or medical worker could contain her.
She added so much colour to our family proceedings. Bright, happy, golden colours and dark, tortured, shadowed colours. I don’t know that anyone ever figured out what was going in Gramma’s head but I like to think of her as Mama Rose to the extreme. She was an actress that never really made it beyond community theatre, but in her mind, she was a star and she had the stories to prove it. She once told me she used to have cocktails with Danny Kaye. At the time, I believed her. And I still don’t know for sure if it was true or not, but it was in her mind and it proved, again in her mind, by association, that she had once been part of that glamorous golden age of stardom in either New York or Hollywood.
I was lucky enough to have Gramma next door for a good part of my growing up. She was a haven in a time of parental diet experimentation with Microbiotics and no TV to take your mind off the seaweed and bulgar wheat you had for dinner. Gramma had chocolate donuts and cable TV.
She would set her table three days before the party, Christmas gifts were out under the tree on the first of December which allowed for at least 24 days of shaking packages, much to her dismay and delight. We danced to Rod Stewart in the kitchen and once caused Mom to race across the yard in panic when we performed the cymbal part of the Star-Spangled Banner with pot lids.
Then there’s the time she convinced her church to go against building code and hold a candle-light midnight mass. She made it on the local news. Then there was the time she fingered a local disabled man as a murder suspect. She made the local paper with the headline ‘Hooded Man Lurks.’ Then there was the time she used kitchen magnets to relieve pain after watching an infomercial. She made it on the local news again.
She may never had made it in New York or Hollywood, but she was a star in Lorain County.