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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Granny beads

When my mother's mother died, we found piles and piles of granny beads in her top drawers, like she'd gone to Mardi Gras every year without telling us. We giggled and groaned, because she had never worn those beads and really, who would, and for goodness sake, why so many.

What she did wear: doubleknit pants, navy blue keds, and brassieres that shaped the upper half of her body into twin torpedoes. Hers was a working citrus farm, and these were the clothes that allowed her to take part in the work.

When going "into town" she also wore a navy blue cardigan with flat, blue buttons. She'd offer this garment up to me almost as soon as I hopped off the Piedmont plane, little golden wings announcing to the world that I had flown unaccompanied. I knew the air outside the Orlando airport would hit me like a slap of hot to the face, but when she'd ask me if I was chilly from the flight, I'd nod and uh-huh immediately just to get that sweater draped over my shoulders by my grandmother's strong, tan hands.

If she had worn granny beads, believe you me I would have found a way to get those from her neck to mine, and then I would have played with them all the way to Ocala. I would have twirled them in my fingers and worn them with my bathing suit, like I did the pair of dingy white kitten heels I found under my mother's childhood bed. I would have made eyes at my grandmother and sighed melodramatically, then acted surprised when she said I could take them home with me, wear them on the plane to DC even, and I would have done just that.

But the fact remains: my grandmother did not wear granny beads. And so yesterday I was surprised that spotting a strand of these beads she never wore, in a garish pink she would never have chosen, brought her immediately and joyfully to mind.
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