My grandmother Gladys would have been 107 today, which would have been too much to ask for, really, as she was a heavy smoker until she quit in her sixties. She made it to 87.
Of my extended family, she was the relative I knew best, probably because, after the death of my grandfather, she was the only one who lived in our neighbourhood, let alone our town. She came to visit on Sundays, walking from her own little house, striding along in chunky heels and a belted coat, beret on her head, and vinyl shopping bag in her hand. She brought us children cookies wrapped in kitchen paper, and they had a very faint flavour of cigarette smoke.
It is amusing to think about European friends and acquaintances who remember fondly (and loudly and effusively) their grandmothers' cooking, when really, the only foodstuff I associate with my own Scottish-Canadian gran is those cookies, weak milky tea and Tang. Tang was an orange drink made from chemicals, and that is what Gladys would serve her grandchildren on the rare occasions we were at her house.
My grandmother was also not one for sparkling conversations. She enjoyed listening to the radio, smoking and staring off into space. When at our house, she would wash the dishes, and now that I am closer grandmother age, I realise it gave her something to do.
And needless to say, my grandmother was not a model of piety. She went to weddings and funerals, and that was about it for her church attendance. She identified as an Orangeman, which rather shocked the heck out of the eldest of her Catholic grandchildren.
Meanwhile, she was slightly ambivalent about her grandmother role and resisted being recruited into babysitting the whole lot of us at once, as it was too much for her Nerves.
Thus, my grandmother rather blew up the grandmother stereotype. Nevertheless, I love her to death (and, obviously, beyond). I talk to her soul every Christmas Eve in the kitchen while I'm cooking, and I remember her on her birthday. Of course I pray for her every day. She once came to me in a dream to say that she was fine but missing us all. However, there is that Orange stuff so ... praying.