If I may beg your indulgence, I would like to spend a few moments on a personal matter.
My Grandparent’s brick ranch house was where I whiled away many a pleasant hour in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. It was a home full of warmth and poodles (the latter to be replaced in later years by many, many birds…not notably cockatiels I recall). When I was quite young, in second or third grade, I would call Grandma and we would create stories…a radio show conducted via telephone. Not remembering the details of the plots, I can’t imagine it was high art, but she was patient with me and quite a character actor.
Before our family moved in the summer of ’82, before I began the 6th grade, I was only a 15-minute walk (or 12-minute Big Wheel ride) away from her house. During the summer, I visited a couple of times each week. She would be grooming dogs, which was her gig, in the other half of the finished basement while I would peruse the World Book Encyclopedias and Year Books in the adjacent room. It was in the latter space where our family would gather for the Holidays. While the ceiling was perilously low for the tallest among us, with one particularly height-gifted uncle having to angle his head sharply so as not to bump his cranium against the stucco paneling, I nonetheless remember the room as spacious. Lions football on the TV each Thanksgiving Day and an ornately festooned tree each Christmas. No matter what else was going on in life, these were reliable and eagerly awaited delights.
She would often prepare lunches and we would sit and listen to the radio. One local station would ask trivia questions and the first caller with the correct answer would win a small prize. One day, they posed the predictable question involving Grover Cleveland. I told her I knew it, and she allowed me to use the phone to call in to the station. I recall being annoyed at the DJ’s question if someone told me the answer, I believe my response was a curt and mildly haughty “No” but the haze of time blurs such moments. The important point is that she encouraged my love of reading. I am very grateful to her for that.
We moved away, and then I went off to college, and then moved out of state to strike my fortune in Washington DC. I’ve seen her only a handful of times since 1989, and most of our correspondence was limited to Holiday cards and short notes.
I will always remember her with her wry smile, that more-often-than-not would turn into a full, wide, and infectious grin. She adored her animals, her garden (which was impressive), and above all, her family. Grandma Wallace, you will be missed. Requiescat in pace.