Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pink Squirrels and Hot Tea

As a person goes through life, they look to various people as role models - people they respect and people they aspire to be like. I have many people I look up to in all aspects of my life, but there are two women in my life who have always, and will always be my role model…my grandmothers.  

They have both taught me so much in life. My Grandma Pat was the ultimate homemaker – she taught me how to cook and sew, and of course how to make a mean pink squirrel, among so many other things. Unfortunately, in 2005, she lost her battle with pancreatic cancer and made her way to heaven to be with my Grandpa.  I miss her dearly, but I know that with her life lessons she taught me and the fact that she is always watching over us, that everything will always be okay.

Now on the other hand I have my Grandma Bea…and I’m not even sure where to begin – she has taught me that you’re never too old (or young) to do anything you dream of, how to appreciate a cup hot tea no matter what time of day or how hot/cold it is outside, how to be spontaneous, and of course how to play a great game of rummy or cribbage.

I have so many great memories with both women that I could write for days, but today I will stick to just a few stories that always make me smile…

Grandma Bea
For those of you who know my Grandma Bea, you know she loves to travel, whether it is to another country or even just an overnight camping trip to the lake.  I have been blessed to experience many trips with her, such as Arizona, Hawaii, and the Eastern Caribbean, but growing up it was always an adventure to hook on the pop-up camper and go to the lake in the summer. Jason and Jared would fish constantly, Jeff and I would go hiking and explore, and Grams would sit by the camper, read her book, and make sure we have all the essentials for a hot dog cookout that night and plenty of marshmallows to roast when the sun went down.

After my Grandpa Roy passed, my Grandma Bea decided that she would like to take each one of the grandkids on a trip of some sort. I think Chris and Jill went on a cruise, Scott and Jeremy a river boat, Jason and Jared a bus trip, and Andrea a cruise. Andy, Jeff, and I got blessed with a week-long cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. I think I was a sophomore in high school when we went and let me tell you, we had a blast. Grandma’s only rule was that she didn’t care what we did, but we must all eat together and attend the show every evening. Probably, not the greatest rules for 15-16 year old kids, but like I said…we had a blast!

The most prominent and cherishable memory I have thus far with my Grandma Bea is her tea parties. We would gather around the kitchen table with freshly baked cookies and a pot of hot tea, play rummy, and discuss the happenings of our day and so much more. And if we didn’t feel like playing cards that day, there was always a picture puzzle that needed put together. There was a ton of cards shuffled and a lot of life discussed around that table!

Grandma Pat
My Grandma Pat was an amazing seamstress and everyone that knew her, knew that. If she wasn’t in the kitchen cooking, she would be sitting on the couch, quilt blocks in hand. I won’t tell you about all the patterns we cut out on the kitchen table or how she made my First Communion dress, but how much of a treat it was to spend the night at her house. We would get to unroll the blue egg crates and sleep on the floor in the living room. If we were lucky the next day, the boys would spend the day outside and Grandma would get out the pea green- colored Easy Bake Oven and let us girls make and decorate our own cakes.  If we pushed our luck, we could even get her to make us pink squirrels, the Vogel girls’ signature drink!

For my Grandma’s funeral service, my mother and I made up the flower arrangements – they consisted of spring-colored flowers and a lot of pink and yellow roses. During her rosary and service, it was undeniable that the smell of roses filled the church. Ever since that day, there are random moments on random days where I smell roses, without a flower in sight. This not only happens to me, but my mother, her sisters, as well as a few of my cousins. At that moment in time, when the sweet smell of roses fills the room, she is with us. After my accident, throughout the months of being in and out of hospitals – I smelled a lot of roses…

Without these two ladies, I would not be the person I am today. They have been there for me throughout all my highs and lows and have taught me some of the greatest lessons in life. I strive to be just like these two, and if I can accomplish being just half the women they are…I’ll be okay!

As Grandma Bea famously says when things are coming to a close…”Party’s Over!”

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