I went home for Thanksgiving, back up to my mom's house in Flagstaff. It was nice to forget about Tucson for a while, even if I did have to head home today to spend the entire weekend working on an art project. We don't have big Thanksgivings in my family, usually- just me, Mom, Ted, Andrew, and Aunt Caroline. Sometimes Andrew and I bring friends, but this year it was just us, and I was kind of glad. Andrew makes some amazing mashed potatoes by the way.
I think it's a good thing that I quit reading the blogs, because there were a few scary moments when I was walking around outside where I thought I saw the slenderman in amongst the trees...it was a pretty obvious mistake to make, actually. Mom's house is near a stand of aspen trees, which look like this in the winter:
So yeah, it's obviously totally shocking that I thought I saw a tall, skinny person dressed in black with a white head in amongst the branches that look a lot like spidery legs. And before you guys get all paranoid, yes, I did investigate every time, and every time it turned out to be nothing but shadows.
Internet memes aside, the holiday was good. Just what I needed to calm down a little.
I want to talk about my Grandma a little bit. If the people who are following this are only interested in the Jill portion of this blog, I'm telling you right now that this isn't related, but it is kind of important to me. I'm probably going to get a little maudlin too, fair warning.
Grandma Alice was another part of the little family that was formed when my mom and dad got divorced and Mom moved in with Aunt Caroline. Grandma Alice is their mom, and she lived with us until her death when I was twelve.
My Grandma was an amazing woman. She's the person I hold up as my inspiration, the person I want to become. She was born in Michigan to Norweigian immigrant farmers, and when her father was killed in WWII she and her two brothers had to quit school and work full time to keep their farm. They lost it anyway. They moved west in the late 50's, and settled in Flagstaff, where she met my Grandpa and they got married. She worked as a high school art teacher for most of her life, and loved painting especially. She was also an early feminist. I remember asking her when I was little why she never wore skirts like every other old lady I'd seen, and she told me that she hadn't worn a skirt since she was sixteen years old, because she didn't like to do what a bunch of stuck up rich men told her to do. She taught my mom and Aunt Caroline when they were growing up that they were as good as any man, that they could never let anyone tell them they couldn't do something, that we lived in an unequal society and that they could change that. She told the same things to me when I was a kid.
Grandma Alice and I were always very close. My Grandpa died of throat cancer before I was born, and I don't know my dad's parents at all- he never talked about it, but I think there was a lot of bad blood there. But Grandma Alice was home all the time when I was little, and she taught me how to draw and paint, how to play piano, and she never, ever discouraged me from doing something unorthodox or strange. She once let me go to the store with her covered in blue paint from head to toe, and when the cashier asked what was had happened to me, she looked at me proudly and said "Isn't she fantastic?"
She died suddenly, of a stroke, when I was about twelve years old. Today is the anniversary of her death, and every year since it happened I've drawn her a picture. I still miss her, but every year around this time I get an incredible feeling of comfort, like she knows I still care and she's giving me a hug and telling me I'm fantastic again. I need that feeling more than usual this year. I love you, Grandma. See you next November.