My Mimi (Lena Babineau Alix) with me – 1956
Last Friday a long time customer of ours came in to have the oil changed in her car. She and her husband have been bringing their cars into us for over 25 years. Her husband passed away a little over a year ago after doing battle with dementia for a number of years. She was with him 6 days a week for over 3 years at the veterans hospital.
Before his illness they spent a good deal of their time outdoors. He was an avid fisherman, they had a place in Maine, I believe on a lake. Family was everything to them and all would spend many, many days fishing with their father/grandfather.
As she reminisced about the days shortly after the death of her husband she told me the first words out of her 12-year-old granddaughter’s mouth were “Who will take me fishing?’. Father and uncles all said that they would but her response was “But it won’t be the same”.
I felt her granddaughter’s pain. My grandparents have been gone for many, many years now. I miss them dearly. They all had their strengths, the things that they played to. Grampa was the Red Sox, beer and spanish peanuts, always. Nan taught me how to embroider, we learned to quilt together, handcrafts were the game. Pampi always tinkered with things (he was actually quite brilliant in his mechanical ability) and was always ready to laugh. Mimi was the one I played with, laughed with, hugged, adored. She was the one who I trusted and loved more than the others. She was always on our level through every age. When visiting Mimi and Pampi I always felt unconditionally loved, I could do no wrong.
It’s the little things that we remember. I drank my first cup of tea at their table (really warm milk). Tea was always ritual with them – a pot was brewed after supper, every night. We would sit around the table and talk. We would laugh at Pampi’s antics to get a rise out of the wife he clearly adored. The great aunts and uncles would visit, tales of the past and gossip of the present would rule, an uncle would slip into French when he was excited. Laughter, always lots of laughter.
One of my nieces was lamenting the fact that her children will never know her Mabel the way she does. It’s true we said but you never knew our Mimi and that is sad for us. Each child in each generation has their own experience. I hope that I am the kind of grandmother that my grandchildren can lament their children not knowing. I do know that they will probably grow up drinking some sort of hot beverage, sitting around a table and talking about the old days. They will probably also spend a good deal of time outdoors looking at bugs, birds and plants. I can teach them to use their hands and hopefully their minds and I hope that’s what they’ll remember.