It is hard for me to write this one as I am blinded by tears before I even start. This month, we took my daughter, Loralei, to the Muny for the first time. "Little Mermaid" was playing and she sure does love her Princesses. For those that do not know, the Muny is the outdoor theater that runs 7 weekly shows during the summer. Several ladies from my family have held season tickets for decades. It has been a wonderful tradition and I was so excited to, finally, add Loralei to that tradition. There are 8 ladies that go every Wednesday, sit in the heat an enjoy the show and each other's company. My Gramma held her tickets for over 40 years and it was always a highlight to her summer. She insisted on bringing her binoculars to every show in her plastic vinyl "Muny" bag. She had that bag for at least 15 years. It was like a Mary Poppins bag with tissues, snacks, umbrella and various other "Gramma" trinkets; it was funny though, it magically never looked full. She loved all the classics and would offer a traditional opinion over all the new shows and argue with my sister, the theater buff.
This past winter, my Gramma passed away. The woman that I idolized and loved with all my heart had been whittled away from Alzheimer's disease for nearly 7 years. Even though she might not remember what she had for breakfast or know where she was at time, she still enjoyed going to the Muny, singing to each song and wiggling in her seat. I would look over at her during the show, she would have a little smile on her face mouthing the words to almost every song. She just loved that place and spending time with her girls. The past few years, her body was too frail to sit in the Midwest heat, but she was always there in spirit with us.
Since her passing, my family had a plaque added to her seat. What better way to induct Loralei into the "Muny ladies" than to let her sit in that seat for her first show. Channeling her inner "Gramma", she was enamored with the music, her eyes swam with Ariel around the stage, she wiggled with Sebastian as they were under the sea nearing falling out of her seat. I didn't see much of the show except through the eyes of my 3 year old baby girl. Watching her would have brought a smile to Gramma's face. She would have loved that Loralei had become a Muny lady and that the tradition was extending another generation. Gramma never really knew Loralei but she could always make Gramma smile with her giggles and silly antics. That little girl could brighten the darkest of days just with a smile. Gramma would have loved to hear Loralei describe the colorful fish on the stage and see her using her hand binoculars to search for Ariel after she had left the stage. It was just a great night. I could feel her there watching with us but I would have loved to see her face one more time.
It has been so hard to watch her struggle these past few years. I know she is at peace now, getting daily hugs from my Uncle Jim but I selfishly want a hug too. I miss those talks we had at her kitchen table where she knew exactly what to say to right a wrong and make everything better. Ted Drewes tastes a little less sweeter without you to enjoy it with us but I suffer on at eat it away. So for now, I will wiggle a little dance when I am grocery shopping; I will smile at every denim shirt knowing you would have bought it to add to your collection; I will watch Cinderella on repeat with Loralei, sing every song and dance in our pj's to Bibbity Bobbity Boo. Those are just a few of the things that will pay daily homage to your 80+ years of legacy.
You are not here in body but you have left a legacy of loving family and friends and your spirit lives on with all of us. So now I wipe the tears, hug my baby girl and drink a glass of wine for you. Smiley loves you to the moon and back, Gramma.