Friday, January 10, 2014

Eternally Mamie

Hello readers. I apologize for not having written for a few weeks. This post was particularly difficult to write and I could not muster the strength to put my thoughts into words. You will soon understand why.

As the year narrowed down, as festive lights went up throughout the streets of our snowy (and freezing!) city, as bottles of bubbly got popped and as the clock striked twelve on December 31st, many of us jumped on the opportunity to press the "reset" button on life's cycle and decided to start the 2014 chapter of our lives positively. New year, new chapter, new changes...

There is a substantial change for me and my family. You see, life took one of its sharp turns recently. As we welcomed the New Year, my dear, sweet grandmother who we lovingly called Mamie did not welcome it with us. She earned her wings a few weeks ago.

As I come to terms with reality, I take comfort in the fact that she lived a full life constantly surrounded by people who love her.

Mamie would always enchant us with stories. As she strolled down memory lane, she told stories of how she grew up on her father's white-as-snow cotton fields in Egypt; she proudly said how she was the most talented gymnast of her class and was always asked to stand in the front so the others could follow her steps; how she met a young, handsome boy at school who, love-struck and infatuated, had decided to become the school's photographer so he could get a chance to get to know her and take her picture; how, once graduated from school, despite the many invitations she received from other young men, she waited for this same boy who she soon married. Oh, how she loved to tell stories! She had hundreds of them and would tell them with such enthusiasm and such joy, you could not help but smile and share her excitement. 

As I stroll down my own memory lane and reminisce, almost all of my childhood memories include her. She would often walk me and my sisters to a nearby park. There, we would joyfully pick flowers from magnificent rose bushes with which she later made jam. Clear bottles filled with an alluringly bright pink delight would stand like soldiers on the kitchen counter once she was done. All you needed was a spoon.

On school-day mornings, she would take the time to cut bite-size bagel pieces and topped each piece with feta cheese that she pressed down firmly with her thumb. She would carefully circle the plate with the bagel bites, starting from outside and working her way in. She often did not get a chance to make a full circle because we would eat faster than she could prepare.

We would walk to the nearby convenience store together (it was called Maisonnée at the time). During these walks, she would protect us from the lion statues that some neighbors had at the top or bottom of their stairs. I remember being very scared of them as a child. We would leave Maisonnée with a bag of treats (usually Mr. Big, Oh Henry and Coffee Crisp chocolate bars, sesame snaps, Werther's Original candy and many packs of gum). She would keep all these treats in her top drawer. Thank goodness that drawer was out of reach for me and my sisters or else we would have likely emptied its contents within a few days. Mamie would give us a piece of chocolate on Friday nights while we watched the TGIF specials on TV and stayed up late (until 10pm!)

I can write books filled with the beautiful memories I have of her. 

As my sisters and I grew up, she inevitably grew older. She would often say  "Je suis tombée en enfance" (translated word-by-word to "I fell into childhood") and would smile at the irony of being taken care of by the ones she cared for. Even though she could no longer spoil us with chocolate bars or bagel bites, she never stopped spoiling us with her love and her delightful stories.

Although she does not have the chance to start her new chapter and can no longer "write" in her own book, I believe nobody's book ever ends; it is simply intertwined into the books of others. So, here we are. We have opened a new chapter in our books where Mamie will live forever through everything she has taught us, through the many life lessons we have learned thanks to her and through the precious memories that will forever be woven in our heart and soul. 

She has enriched my book, my life and will continue to enrich it. I would not have been who I am today if it weren't for her. She has taught me a lot about patience, humility and humbleness and has made of me a stronger and more caring person. She taught me to speak my mind and to be honest. As my father said "Everything she had on her mind and in her heart, she also had at the tip of her tongue." She always told me to make sure nobody takes advantage of me and always reminded me that God has given me all the blessings I need... she also taught me how to roll vine leaves.

For all of those and for much, much more, Thank you Mamie. I miss you and I love you dearly. You will stay with us eternally.

Marie Tchalekian-Balassanian
June 30, 1923 - December 15, 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment