My Dad’s Mom, my Grandma, Julie Michaud, better known to my cousins and me as Memé, or Memere, passed away a week ago today. She was 86 and had been suffering with dementia, among other ailments, for the past couple of years.
In my 28 years of knowing her, I have nothing but pleasant memories. Here are a few of my favorites:
When I was 5 or 6 years old, I woke up early one morning and asked my parents to make me pancakes. Still asleep, they turned me down. Out of frustration and my desire for pancakes, I decided to walk to Meme’s house in Elmwood, about 2 miles away from home. I don’t think I got down the block before my parents caught up with me. From an early age I knew, had I made it there, I would have gotten what I wanted. Meme’s house was our sanctuary. She cooked us whatever we wanted, had kitchen cabinets stocked with cookies, a fridge filled with soda, an unlimited supply of knickknacks for us to play with, and never-ending love for her 18 grandchildren.
Growing up, my parents went out on dates most Saturday nights, which meant, my Sister and I spent at them Memé’s & Pepé’s house. As kids, Shawna and I would set up a few folding TV dinner tray tables in front of the open door of the front hall closet and play “interior designer” or “fashion designer”. One of us would sit in the closet/office while the other would play the customer on the other side of the tables. We would use the scrap material and buttons from our Memé’s work as a seamstress and create pretend dresses and curtains. When we got tired of that, we watched Nick at Nite, drank chocolate milk, and eventually fell asleep on the living room couch or waterbed in her guest room.
Every year, sometimes twice a year, she would take my sister and I shopping for new school or spring clothes. When we were younger, the $100 would go a long way at TJ Maxx or JC Penney. As we got older, the budget remained the same even though our tastes changed and clothes more expensive. We were still so appreciative. Afterwards, she would take us out to lunch, usually to Burger King. I always wanted McDonald’s, just across the street, but was too polite to speak up. Plus, I knew she liked Burger King more.
As a college student, and French minor, I wrote her letters in French and she would write me back just the same. I can’t write, or sadly even speak in French any more, but I like that we shared that connection, even if only for a semesters of my life. I knew that made her proud.
I love that she met Jeff and adored him. Before we moved to New York, we would have dinner with her and Pepe at their house. She would offer us red wine with ice and while Pepe would make anti-semitic jokes. I was so embarrassed, but Jeff found it amusing. He’d smirk at me and I new he was a keeper. In the last few years of her life, sometimes she would have a hard time placing my face or name, but she always recognized Jeff and was quick to squeeze his hand hello. That was good enough for me.
She will remain a fixture in my memory and heart just as much as she was a fixture at every swim meet, softball game, musical production, graduation, birthday party, art exhibition, family and holiday celebration.
She will be missed.