Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Behind the Mahogany

This past weekend I flew home by myself for a short weekend to attend my grandmother's memorial service. It was nice to visit with family without my kids for the first time ever! I actually got to talk with everyone at great lengths! It was like rediscovering my relatives. Many of whom I rarely get to see. In my grandmother's belongings, my family found a handmade book I made for my grandma in one of my college graphic design classes called "Behind the Mahogany". It was titled "Behind The Mahogany" as that was the title of the book my grandmother always wanted to write about the period in her life when she and my grandfather ran a local tavern that had a very ornate mahogany wood bar. Another fun moment was when my dad's cousin served up some wine they brought back from Budapest recently. (My grandmother was Hungarian) and we stood in a circle and toasted my grandmother. I shared a story of how she visited us in West Virginia and spent the weekend drinking moonshine and eating our homemade habanero salsa wth my husband. The two of them really enjoyed themselves. At 80 something she could still hang!

I thought I would share what I read during the service. Last names were removed for privacy.

"As I was standing in my closet deciding what to wear for today’s occasion, I picked out this bright green shirt and contemplated its appropriateness. Then, I had a fleeting memory of my grandmother wearing a bright orange suit to my college graduation. It was at that moment that I decided this outfit was perfect. Grandma always loved to wear color.

My grandmother, Elisabeth Theresa was born August 27th, 1915 in Marguerite, PA to John and Mary. She had 6 sisters and one brother. She loved to sew as a young girl and wanted to design clothing. In fact, she made that orange suit she wore to my graduation herself.

In addition to her love of sewing, she also loved to cook. While Elizabeth’s two sons Arthur Jr. and Ronald were young, she and my grandfather, Arthur Sr., ran a neighborhood tavern called “The Blue Bird Cafe” on Woodville Road for 29 years.

After that, my grandmother went to work at Riverside Hospital where she organized and decorated for all the hospital banquets. But what my grandmother was most known for was cooking her Hungarian specialties. My fondest memories of my grandmother are of her cooking and sharing meals with us as a family around her dining room table.

My grandmother certainly loved her grandchildren and showered us with affection. She would often brag about us to others while in our presence making us slightly embarrassed but knowing that she was just prouder of us than we were of ourselves.

In her later years, Elizabeth and her husband traveled with their Airstream camper all over the United States. They saw the sites, made friends and shared my grandmother’s cooking with the other travelers. It was truly the highlight of their retirement.

After the death of her husband, Elizabeth decided to move to Virginia to be near her eldest son Arthur and his wife Sandy. She wanted to get away from the cold, snowy winters in Ohio. She spent the remainder of her life in Virginia. First in her own condo, then in assisted living and finally in a nursing home where she passed away in her sleep on February 21st, 2008.

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to her today."

1 comment:

Krista said...

could you read that without crying? it's lovely.

and what book did you read while you were travelling?