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Monday, June 9, 2014

Stars

Some time ago, I realized that I had something that Gram's own children and grandchildren didn't have. I had the advantage of spending a lot of time with her, not just as a child, but as an adult. Because of this, I had an experience that the others missed. I heard many stories that she might not have shared with her kids or grandkids. In fact, Gram's granddaughter, my cousin Carole, and I spoke about this. Perhaps it was because I was not a natural member of the family. She could let it all hang out without it bothering me. If she told stories about any of her children, she would not be telling me anything about one of my parents, or even one of my aunts or uncles. I suspect that it might have been rather liberating for her, especially when I became a fellow adult. One of the things I hope to do with some of my blog posts is enlighten Carole, and any other members of Gram's family who might find themselves inclined to read my Ravings with open hearts and minds, with some of Gram's stories. All three of her children are gone now, so if they knew some of these stories, they are no longer able to share them.

Gram has been on my mind a lot lately, most likely because Marie and Thayne called us on Memorial Day and offered to take us to Fort Logan Cemetery to visit Trent's parents' grave. Afterward, they offered to take me to visit Gram's resting place as well. When we began our drive from one cemetery to another, Thayne asked me if I had any other family in the cemetery where Gram is buried. I chuckled and remarked that many of her family would say that none of my relatives are in the cemetery. Interestingly enough, Marie and Thayne interpreted my answer in opposite ways. Marie laughed because she thought I was waxing philosophical and saying that they weren't in the cemetery, they had moved on from this existence. Thayne latched onto my exact meaning, however, and sort of huffed about it - he knew that I meant some people would say Gram was not my relative, nor were they, hence no relatives in yonder boneyard.

Before long, I was sharing some things with them, and Trent, of course, about who was who in the family, and tied it in with some things that they may or may not have known about the individual people I mentioned. In short order, it went from one extreme to another, and back again. I got to the point where tears began to flow because of wounds that might never heal. I apologized for losing my decorum, and was told that I didn't have to apologize for having feelings, which was just what I needed to hear. We made our way to the cemetery where Gram is buried next to her husband, whom I never met. Since I never knew him personally, I have never been able to think of him as Grandpa. To me, he will forever be known as her beloved husband, or other people's Grandpa. And I think that's okay.

When we got to the cemetery, which I hadn't been to visit in several years, I couldn't find Gram's spot. In the past, I used a specific point of reference and walked straight to it. But not this time. We had to ask for staff to help us locate her grave, which really made me laugh at loud. As we wandered around, looking for her marker, I said, "It's just like her sense of humor to move around and hide from us!" When we were directed to her grave, it was at least a dozen rows over from where I remembered it being. I just had to chuckle about it, because I knew that she would have seen the humor in the situation. I was able to get some good photographs of the grave of the woman who raised me, and her husband, as well as the photographs I took of Trent's parent's resting place. All in all, it was a good, albeit emotional, day.

A day or two later, I found one of my scribbled notes of blog post ideas. This one had reminders of some things I had wanted to write about Gram, so it made me smile. When I began writing tonight, I had intended to tell you a few things about Gram that were related to the motion picture industry, so if you'll indulge me, I'll continue, and promise to make it brief.

Gram met her husband in the movie theater in which he worked as a projectionist. At some point after they were married, they ran a movie theater, and she did things ranging from ticket sales to running the concession stands and selling her home made fudge and mugs of icy root beer. Because of being in the business, she was able to meet people that she never would have seen otherwise. One day when we were watching an MGM movie on tv, she mentioned that Leo the MGM lion had come to Denver on a promotional tour, and she was able to see him "in person." Another person that she met and was impressed by was the actress Dorothy Lamour. I think one of the things that she liked about her was that she was "about as big as a minute," to use one of Gram's phrases. In looking at information about the actress, I see that she was only five feet, five inches tall, which was still about half a foot taller than Gram!

Some of Gram's bothers-in-law must have also worked on the business and met many famous people. I remember being surprised once when Gram and I were going through a box of old letters, and seeing a telegram expressing condolences on the death of her brother-in-law. The telegram had been sent by the actor William Powell, who I had seen in so many old movies. I was quite surprised by that one! One of the stories that Gram told me, probably about the same brother-in-law, involved him recounting a recent vacation he had taken in the South. He told her about various things, and then said that he had seen a new artist perform at a small venue. He was very impressed with the young man's talent, and even more with his presence. "I want you to remember his name, Bessie, because he is going to be a really big star." And the unknown talent that he predicted would make it big? None other than Elvis Presley!

I will keep writing about Gram from time to time. I do it to honor her memory. I do it for her family. I do it for my dear and cherished readers. But mostly, I do it for me. Sharing the memories just feels good. I hope it feels good for you, too.