Thursday, February 21, 2008


It was one of those very fancy wedding receptions. We were seated for many delicate courses after more kinds of hors d’uovres than I could recognize. There was a live orchestra to which one more member was added with each course. Somewhere after yet another change of silverware, one of the women at our table began to nostalgicize about how she and her grandma used to polish silver together. The other woman said that yes, she did that with her grandma too, and they proceeded to discuss the ways their silver polishing traditions were similar and unique and how being allowed to polish certain pieces were privileges to be attained with age. Finally, one of them turned to me and asked if my grandma and I polished silver together. I could have simply said we didn’t have silver or lied and said yes and offered no details, but no, I had to provide my own story. So I told them how my grandma and I and my sister and cousins had our own tradition with grandma. She would let us roll cigarettes for her. She had one of those little devices with the belt and handle where you licked the cigarette paper and placed it just so into the machine, then stuffed loose tobacco from the big blue Bugler can evenly into the paper, then moved the lever to invert the belt on itself to simultaneously roll and seal the cigarette. As they stared with sagging jaws, I went on to proudly tell how she didn’t even complain if they weren’t even, but put our cigarettes right alongside her perfect ones in her big silver cigarette case and smoked them right along with the others. It was somewhere about that point in the story when I realized that what I had begun to tell in sort of a rebellious reaction to being a bit ashamed of my ‘poor’ childhood was actually something I was proud of, because in letting us do that task, our grandma taught us sharing, compassion, kindness, yes, some hand-eye coordination, but also a sense of fun. Yeah, my grandma let us roll cigarettes for her and I AM proud of it!


Mom Cat said...

You are very fortunate to have memories of your grandparents especially grandmother. My paternal grandmother died the year before I was born;the other passed when I was 3. I have really no memories of her. How many others have memories like yours but are hesitant to talk about them for fear of being"looked down on"? I hope my grandchildren will have some memories of me. Although the last time we visited, the youngest one told me she missed her Grandma D! The is "chopped liver" signing off.

goprairie said...

do you want to borrow the cigarette roller?