|Bob & Colleen Lynn|
Growing up my grandparents lived down the street from my elementary school and less that two miles away from my house! It was fantastic! There were many days when Mimi picked me up from school and once I was a little older I was allowed to walk to her house! She fixed THE BEST Velveeta Cheese grilled cheese sandwiches. All that cheesy, buttery goodness on white bread was like crack for 8 year olds! However, once I got a little older, I started to wonder why Velveeta Cheese could sit on a shelf and never go bad. It really freaked me out. But, in my younger, more naive days those sandwiches always hit the spot! Mimi was easy-going enough to let me, my brother and cousins absolutely tear apart her closets on a regular basis so that we could play shoe store and dress up. We would put on as many pieces of her jewelry and clothing as we could cram onto our bodies at one time. Mimi never seemed to care about the mess, never stressed one bit. This may have been due to the fact that my father and his siblings desensitized her with playing games like "build a bomb shelter" and "let's blow something up" when they were kids (and those games were not necessarily played in that order).
Mimi was always involved in the games, teaching us new things, laughing, interacting and loving us. When my brother and I had sleepovers at Mimi and Papa's house Mimi would sing us bedtime lullabies. She had (and still has) such a beautiful, sweet voice. Today, even though she is overcome by dementia and cannot even remember who most people are she sits in her family room watching films from her era and she is able to sing along with the songs word for word hardly ever missing a beat.
In a way, it is tragically beautiful what has happened to Mimi as she ages and her mind and body deteriorate. She still has a hilarious sense of humor. Recently, while leaving her doctor's office after a battery of tests she told the woman at the front desk, "well, after all those tests we figured out I'm pregnant!". Mimi also thinks it is humorous to ask people if they have syphilis when they are not feeling quite right. She calls everyone dear or sweetheart because she does not know who they are and she is so kind to each person she comes into contact with. It is hard to stomach when she asks to "go home" referring to her childhood home. What breaks my heart even more is when Papa takes her around to all the photographs in their home to tell her the story of their life together. I cannot imagine watching your partner of 60 plus years who you have had a wonderful life with not be able to remember who you are. Mimi sometimes asks where that nice man went or refers to Papa as her boyfriend.
At 27 years old, I now feel older than my grandparents. I have always heard that the elderly revert to being children but I never imagined that this would happen with my Mimi and Papa...the ones who always took care of me, took care of everyone. But now is a time for me to reflect on those memories of our younger years and think of our glory days together playing shoe store, doing arts and crafts, playing the piano (or player piano...which is much easier if you ask me) and keep those memories close to my heart.
This is a montage of things that remind me of Mimi. Her celebrity crush on Frank Sinatra! Being one of the child dancers in an episode of Shirley Temple. Trips to Snow Ranch and returning with the trunk of their boat-sized brown caddy brim full with avocados, grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges. Me learning to gamble at the early age of two on the slot machine in her house that Papa kept fully stocked with quarters at all times (I jammed the slot machine multiple times by shoving as many quarters as I could fit into the slot). Trips into their hot tub wearing Mimi's "old lady" skirted swimsuit secured onto my little body with hair clips and rubber bands. Strutting around in Mimi's Ferragamo shoes which fit me perfectly when I was about 7. I outgrew Mimi by the age of 10. She was and still is such a petite little lady! There are so many more comforting memories. We all have relationships where we know we will never be able to get back to a certain time, a way of life, or a feeling. I think it is OK to reminisce! Mimi has always been and always will be on of the classiest, most beautiful, loving women I know.