She called me a hornet when I was mad. I hated that.
She loved tomato soup, like me. During a meal a few years ago she said she could eat it several times a day. She said this several times. I didn't mind her repeating; it was a good point to be made.
When my brother convinced (a very young) me that a Milkbone was an ice cream treat for humans, I asked her for one.
"Oh, honey, you don't want one of those."
I can still hear her voice.
There were blocks at her home in Iowa, but they were hard to play with on the textured carpet. We always wanted to build towers, but they toppled.
The best playground was across the street.
She made soft, sweet molasses cookies.
My brother still uses her recipe for cut-out Christmas cookies. I wonder if he's been able to get the dough rolled as thinly as she could.
She was always quick to laugh, and shared a smile with my dad.
She was the most pleasant gal to be around.
She got confused about who we were, but she was never scared of us, and I'm grateful for that.
I used to sneak peaks at her collection of elephant figurines, tucked away in the curious front stairwell by the door through which we never entered. It was just me and the elephants, quiet and hidden.
She put pennies in plastic Easter eggs that we found during our morning hunt.
Our parents always told us not to jump on the beds in her home. We always jumped on the beds. She always scolded us.
She kept Tiddlywinks in the back bedroom, the bedroom with the closet with the magical light that went off when you closed the door, like a fridge.
I don't remember why (maybe I was sick?), but once she set me up in her bedroom, just me, to watch the video of Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin. I was always perplexed that Peter was played by a girl.
She gave me my first copy of a Babysitters' Club book. I unwrapped it in a Chinese restaurant, and went on to become a devoted reader of the series.
She squealed with glee when we rolled into her driveway, running out the back door to squeeze me and my brothers, making "umph" noises of happiness as our little bodies hugged hers.
She handwrote notes, in cursive.
When she was very old, we spied on her and her sister singing hymns together at their assisted living home. Mom cried in the hallway.
A picture of her late husband stayed by her bedside after he was gone.
I learned to eat pickled herring at her home, and discovered it's pretty tasty, for vinegared fish.
She never got on the email train, but loved to read.
Her home was always cozy and well-kept, with crisp bed sheets and rolls with butter on the table at dinnertime.
I have to write this in the past tense, and we all hate that.