Thursday, May 16, 2013
Ivanon Coffie, 2001 Upper Deck #14
My Gram, who went by the nickname "Boots" from a very young age, left us nearly seven years ago. Time keeps moving along, always forward, and I still can't believe that we've been without her for so long. I keep her close to me in my heart and in my mind, and there are little reminders of her scattered throughout my home. A 2001 portrait photograph of her, smiling brightly, sits in my living room. An older photograph, this one from Christmas 1986, rests on my dresser in the bedroom. I asked for a few keepsakes when the family combed through her personal effects, and these are still with me as well: a few beer glasses (one rose-tinted and engraved with the name "BOOTS", the other a mug bearing the logo of her old reliable Natural Light), a tin Schaefer beer serving tray that I've hung on the kitchen wall, the well-worn Scrabble board and deck of Phase 10 cards that we used to pass the hours on many a weekend or summer day, and of course the Super Nintendo that she herself bought about 20 years back. That last item was the first modern video game console in our house, and it still works...though I need to solder the A/V cable.
But those are just things. What matters to me most are the things that I remember, things that I feel the need to share with you and to put into written word on the chance that those memories ever fade. There was her near-inscrutable Baltimore accent, a Highlandtown dialect that turned "dial" into "doll", "oil" into "ool", and most amusingly, "sink" into "zink". She had a love for any and all games: scratch-off lottery tickets, card games (scat and Skip-Bo were some favorites), Bingo, board games, TV guide crosswords, pinball and casino video games...you name it. But she was fiercely competitive; if you got the upper hand against her, she'd snap about how you "had a horseshoe up your ass" or that you were "unconscious". It was all in good fun, though. Boots loved strawberry shortcake and ice cream with pretzels for dipping. Every St. Patrick's Day she would raise a glass of dyed-green beer in a nod to the Irish portion of her heritage. Still, I'm not getting to the heart of it.
Most of all, my Gram was full of love. She loved her brothers and sisters, her cousins, her children, and most of all, her grandchildren. When my sister and I were growing up, she was our usual babysitter, and she even lived on the bottom floor of our house for 17 years. She helped us learn to read by reading to us. She would sometimes wake us by singing the first few notes of "Good Morning!", from Singin' in the Rain. We'd watch The Price Is Right, maybe play a game of Pay Day or Aggravation. She'd whip up an omelet for breakfast or maybe just Rice Krispies with a heaping helping of sugar (to Mom's dismay), and grilled cheese for lunch. Whether my parents were home or not, Gram was always right downstairs, and she always had time for me and my sister. When the family went on vacation to our cottage in Northeastern Pennsylvania or to Ocean City, she came along, sharing the back seat with the kids and playing the license plate game or the alphabet game to help pass the tedious hours in the car. She was such a large and active part of our lives.
I miss her.