Let’s see where do I begin. I think I’ll start around 15 years ago. The year was (pause for dramatic effect) 15 years ago, I was just in the heat of my courtship with Jeana. That’s about when my relationship with grandma changed ever so slightly. To many I was considered a young adult. I was no longer coming over to just visit grandma to get free lunches on my breaks while I was attending Santa Monica College, or getting dropped off by my parents for a weekend visit to Santa Monica. I was now a resident of Santa Monica and a tenant to 824.
I went from seeing my grandma every so often to pretty much everyday. It was great, because I got to know her in a different way. Most of my visits started off with small computer lessons because of some strange issue she was having that I could never track down. Let’s just say she concluded after all that time that she just needed to run the defragger all the time. If you’re not familiar with that I won’t get into it. Other times I was helping her bring in groceries from her favorite place; Trader Joes. Of course she would follow that up with “Guess what I got? Those little Greek spinach spanakopita’s you love”. I would smile, and she would make them. She’d eat one and say she was full (or often not want any because she stopped by Target and got herself a Pizza Hut personal pizza) and I would finish the rest. I never told her that those were not my favorite. But She loved them and loved feeding everyone. Over the years she tried to fatten me up, it just never worked. Thanks skinny genes. To this day when I cruise the aisles of Trader Joe’s frozen section and see those spanakopita’s, I think of her.
In the first couple years down in Santa Monica, as one might expect from a grandmother we talked about family and marriage. I told her my stance, as I’m sure Jeana did and some point as well. But there’s one memory in particular that stands out as, well, very Esther like. I actually don’t recall the origin, but I had injured my large toe and my nail was doing something funky. I can tell you that home-care remedies wasn’t working over the first couple months. One day I was helping Esther with something in flip-flops and she saw my toe and said something to the effect of “Ooo, what are you doing (waving her hand in the air and pointing at my toe)‽ You better fix that ugly toe or Jeana is going to leave you! To which I replied “Come of gram’, I’ll just have her paint it for me”. After which she walked away. I think she was mumbling to herself as she walked off to the kitchen.
Early memories included trips down to the pier. And while now I frequent the pier, it’s usually under it at my favorite watering hole. Every time I walk town Colorado Avenue I’ll see you smiling and pointing at the coaster as if I’m a little kid and you’re psyching me up.
Recently we just gave Esther’s apartment a refresh for some new tenants. She moved out about 7 years ago now. So her place got a few refreshes each time pre-new tenant. Regardless, when I walk through unit 1 I still see memories of holiday dinners in the dining room a top that green (very green) marble, or playing mother may I in the den just below the dining room with Sara and Vivian. I can still see the day I brought her my old flat panel 42” projection TV to install for her in her living room, which I later updated to a true flat screen TV mounted on a new furniture stand. Over the years as tech got smarter, she just wanted to know how to tune her radio to KCRW 89.9, because they always played Opera on the weekends. I wasn’t a fan of opera, but I do wish that I would have attended one opera show with her so I can see how happy it made her (that’s all in hindsight though). I’ve got a couple musicals with her, so I’ll hold on to those.
At this time only one key feature in her old place remains and that’s one lime green window blind in the kitchen. Yes, she loved the color green, at one point around 10 years ago when doing and update for the building which had some leftover for some new kitchen flooring Esther somehow convinced my dad and myself to paint the whole kitchen green. In this case it was really lime green. If you knew Esther her favorite color was (pause) green.
Grandma really loved to travel and thought we didn’t get to that much in the last 10 years. The trips we did get to go on will forever be in my memories. From cruises to Alaska where we get to take a helicopter ride onto a glacier, to Walt Disney World as a kid, and other great trips. Some of our last travel trips together were work trips when working Dad’s auctions. Let me tell you something, Esther had her way when working those auctions. She was the boss, and there were many men that were confused over her stern & strong stance when they were trying to manipulate an old lady. Not on her watch. There were even some gentlemen that came into those checkout trailers we worked in to see Esther specifically. If there was an action she didn’t work, there would be some disappointed men. I think I even tried to get her to go on a date or two, since she seemed to be flirting. But in true Esther fashion she’d look at me with that Sephadric stare and say “Oooh, Austin. You stop that now!” (point and shaking her finger at me).
Esther always told me that I had a special place in her heart since I was the one that made her a grandmother. She swore me to secrecy (that I’m going to break now) that she loved me just a little bit more than Korey and Arielle. Sorry, not sorry. She did always follow that up with I love them just as much (winking in a grandma esk way). Well I love you grandma, we all do. Thank you for making my 35 years amazing.