Friday, June 25, 2010

Family Sized Fun Grandmama Style

This may be a little all over the place, because I have been that way this week. But mostly, I just want to talk about my Grandmama, so whatever I say will eventually tie into that.

First of all, on Wednesday, while the world was wrapped up in the USA winning a World Cup game (Go USA!) I was on twitter participating in an enormous prayer circle for a little girl who lay dying of cancer. I don't know her, or her family, but my attention was grabbed by her story and the outpouring of love that was manifesting in the form of this twitter prayer group that was hundreds or thousands of people praying for her journey to heaven.

I could barely see through my tears. Tears for her Mama, her twin sister, her family that would have to go on without her. It was heart breaking and powerful and if ever a red carpet was laid out for one's stairway to heaven, it was that day. So many people sending thoughts and prayers and love and support and asking God to make her way easy, since this life had been so hard.

You can read more about Ellie here, read her obituary here, and if you are reading this, please pray for her Mama and her twin sister Grace who have lost a little best friend. How tragic for her mother. My heart is still breaking for her.

My Grandmama died of Cancer 20 years ago, and as I prayed for little Ellie I could feel her presence, and I just became lost in thoughts and memories of her all day. I made BLTs for lunch in honor of her, and mmmmmm did my Grandmama know how to make a BLT. Another thing my Grandmama could do? MAKE YOUR FRIGGEN DAY.

She was AMAZING.

Here is a little story as I remember it from my childhood...

Every year, our family, my grandparents, all my aunts, uncles and cousins, would rent a huge house at the beach in Gulf Shores for a week or two. One year, my Grandmama came up with the most delicious, wonderful adventure for us kids, and I suggest for you to read this, take it in your heart, and recreate it for your kids because it was the coolest thing EVAR!

The adults had taken us kids to a souvenir store to see what little beachy things we would want to take home. I remember picking out a little owl made of teeny little shells. We went for ice cream after that. We didn't buy anything because we were planning to came back later in the week.

The next morning, or maybe the next, when we all woke up, we went for a walk on the beach with Grandmama, as we did most mornings. All of the grandchildren were CRAZY about Grandmama, in fact everybody who met her was pretty crazy about her. She was The Awesome.

So back to the beach. I am maybe 7. Grandmama points at some strange patterns in the sand and says, "I wonder what made that?"

We all start looking for the creature or whatever made this weird swirl in the sand, and there it was. A bottle with a cork in it. And something was inside.

She opened it carefully, and pull out the paper, burnt on the edges, and a map in the middle.

"A treasure map!", Grandmama exclaimed. And we were TOTALLY GIDDY. How freaking exciting! Us cousins were all of 7, 7, 4 and 1, ripe for imaginative play and stories. Still believing in the wild parts of our own imagination. Everything was still magical.

We roused up all the moms and dads and aunts and uncles and started a search party.

"Start at the old crooked tree."
"40 paces East to the crescent shaped sand dune."

Dude, it was so real for us. We were just shaking with fear of pirates and promise of treasure and there were squeals and screams and laughs and I really can't explain the fantasy of it all, but I am sure you can begin to imagine how it almost didn't feel real, we were in a waking dream of suspense and surprise.

After all sorts of paces and instructions and whatnot, we began to dig. And dig and dig and wonder if someone else had found the treasure before us. Finally our shovels struck something and we started scooping the sand from around it with our hands.

It was a large box and it had all kinds of warnings and pirate signs and threats written all over it.

We sat back, amazed and frightened and excited all at once.

As we opened the box, gold coins spilled out, and inside were treasures that we had seen before - the trinkets we had picked out from the souvenir store were all laying among scads of jewels and coins. My little shell owl, jolly roger flags, and candy and all sorts of awesome treasures.

The next day, we all sat down a wrote our own message, including our addresses, popped them in a bottle, corked them and threw them out to sea.

When I got home I had a postcard from someone about a mile down from our cabin that had found my message and sent me a note back.

That is me on the far right holding up my Jolly Roger flag. I know, nice socks with the dress, hunh? I like my bangs.

Here is the part of the story I didn't know about until years later. Grandmama had made all her children and their spouses stay up all night spray painting poker chips silver and gold, and gathering Mardi Gras beads and gifts to fill the treasure chest with. They wrote out the map, and burned the edges, dug a huge hole, set the whole thing up.

Oh, Grandmama, how I wish my kids could have known you. Please do fun stuff like this with little Ellie Potvin and hold her hand in heaven. If anyone could make her feel comfortable in her new home, it is you.

And thank you for everything.

Did your Grandmama make any memories that stay with you forever? Share them!


Yvonne Coon Gillar said...

Karmen, what a beautiful tribute to an incredible lady. Thank you so much for sharing this! She was Aunt Ida to me...I miss her, too.

Laura Coon said...

It is a wonderful story. Like Yvonne, she was Aunt Ida to me. I agree, she always made life fun, especially for all her nieces and nephews. I will always remember Aunt Ida with great love. She is indeed missed.

brermatt said...

That's a great grandmama you had, Karmen. Thank you for sharing her story, and Ellie's, with us.

As I am sure you know, but your other readers may not, I'm blogging my grandfather's story over at I don't want us to forget these amazing things our grandparents did and I'm glad we have these opportunities to share them with others.

Family Sized Fun said...

that is freaking COOL
i might copy you and do my grandmamas
what a GREAT idea!
i wonder how much of her writing and stuff i could collect copies of!
thanks for the inspiration!

Michelle DeLisle Mooneyham said...

I remember that trip...your grandmama was a very special lady, another mother to me, "Miss Ida". I miss her, too. We drive past her cemetary several times a year which usually promts me to tell my husband yet another story about the Coons. Thanks for sharing

Ellen w said...

Karmen! What a beautiful memory. She was amazing. I loved hearing about the pirate hunt through your eyes because though I have seen many pictures of this day, I don't remember the hunt itself. Through your words, I can imagine the excitement and fun of that day. It also makes me want to do more things like that for my own children. She was an amazing woman. I know she is smiling down at your and your beautiful memories of her.

Tricia said...

What an amazing story and memory! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Emily said...

Almost every Saturday in the summer, my Mema and I went to Lake Waco to go fishing. We would stop at a little gas station called Melvins (like you see in the Andy Griffith Show) and buy minnows, Dr Pepper and Cheetos. Many times, I would try and fish with the Cheetos!

Those are fond memories. She is still with us today and I'm 40, but she is fading quickly with dementia. She mentioned fishing with me the other day though and that warmed my heart that she remembered those times!

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