Thursday, June 12, 2008

Birthday Lunches

My grandmother has 6 grandchildren. I am one of them. Every year on our birthday when we were little she would take each of us out to lunch at Woolworth's.

Woolworth's was an old fashioned five and dime sort of store. It was a chain store that has long since gone out of business, but as a kid, Woolworth's was my favorite place to shop. It was like a Walmart on the inside, but only a forth of it's size.

The best thing about Woolworth's was that it was one of the only stores at the time that had diner bar seating in it. You could shop there and then have lunch, which is exactly what we would do.

My grandmother was great about making a fuss over us. She was good at distributing her love evenly so that no one ever got jealous. I remember being about eight and she'd come to pick me up in her navy blue Oldsmobile and off we'd go.

She used to like to chew Trident spearmint gum. Even thought she was good at hiding it, my hawk eyes could always catch her chewing as I watched her from the passenger seat of her car. I'd ask her for a piece and of course she would say yes and let me dig around inside the big black hole of her purse until I found it and would help myself.

I'd chomp my gum like a cud chewing cow and watch her chew hers quietly out of the corner of my eye.

Once we'd get to Woolworth's, she'd let me tear around the store in search of my perfect birthday present. There was always one of two isles I would end up in. The Barbie isle or the play-makeup and jewelry isle.

After I'd pick out whatever present it was that I wanted, we would make our way to the diner counter and sit on the revolving red cushion stools and order lunch. We would sit side by side. Me with my milkshake, her with her coffee and both of us with a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. She would ask me about school, my friends, life. I would blab on about whatever because I was a drama queen, but she would always listen with an attentive ear and...that made me feel important.

Looking back I don't remember even one specific present that she bought me. I suppose it's because it wasn't about the presents. It was about her being present. It was about the fact that she made time for a bossy little kid like me and even thought she told me she loved me, she never really had to say it because her actions always spoke for themselves.

Now when I travel home for visits I'm the one that takes her out to lunch and I'm the one that picks her up. We go to the diner, because she still likes that sort of thing. This time we both order coffee along with our BLT sandwiches.

We sit and talk. She asks me about my job, friends, life. I blab on about whatever because sometimes, I'm still a drama queen. She listens with an attentive ear. Then I ask her questions about her health, her friends, life and I listen with an attentive ear, and well...that makes her feel important.


~**Dawn**~ said...

I love when you share stories & memories of your grandmother. You always manage to evoke some memory for me. Sometimes it's about my Gram. Or my childhood. Or just some snippet about life in CT. This time I remembered my own hometown Woolworth's & also some place else we would go to eat -- The Pie Plate. Anyway. Back on track here. I think the best gift any of us can get is to have someone really listen to us...

Colleen said...

Dawn! I love, love your comment. You had a Woolworth's too? Yay, you know what I'm talking about!Thank you for sharing. Yes, someone to listen to means a lot...

bonnie said...

Oh Colleen, what a magical place Woolworth was for us. Especially the part in back where they kept the parakeets. I remember the three of you going in there with your allowances burning holes in your pockets.

like you, I have a memory of my grandfather taking me to a store like Woolworth and buying me an ice cream cone and sitting me in a tree while I ate it. We walked there, and as I was only 4 it took up hours. Goodness knows what we talked about (he spoke little english) but what I remember the best about the whole day is the gentle strength I felt when he held my little hand. I cried rivers when he died. I can still see his hands in my minds eye. Thank you for the lovely post!