My grandma was an artist. An artist who loved colors. If I was to personify her life, I would have to say it was like a box of crayons. And not the little eight pack — no, she’s got all 96 colors. She wouldn’t go for just red and blue and yellow. Her box would include Atomic Tangerine, Blizzard Blue and Mango Tango. And if I had to pick a crayon for her, she would have definitely been Razzmatazz — mostly red with a touch of jazzy pink.
Her crayon life taught me a lot. Some crayons are sharp, some dull. Others pretty, some have weird names, but each crayon can provide a story, a poem or a life lesson. There may be some colors we prefer, but life is about using as many crayons as you have in your box.
Scarlet is the crayon that would describe some of the moments when Grandma would make Grandpa blush. One time in academy, so the story goes, Grandma sparkled at Grandpa and said, “I love you great, I love you mighty; I love your pajamas right next to my nighty. Now don’t get embarrassed and don’t get red... I meant on the clothesline, and not in bed!”
Grandma was so witty, she was quick with the retorts and often had a poem to recite as well. If she didn’t have one, she’d write one. So when I see the Macaroni and Cheese crayon, the only thing I can think of is a poem she wrote a few years ago.
“You can say stout or chubby, or pleasantly plump
too much size to the thighs, too much lump on the rump
too much jelly on the belly,
lacking thin ’neath the chin
doesn’t matter how you quote it,
does no good to sugar coat it
the name of the game is the same
fat’s fat, and that’s that!”
The crayon Screamin’ Green made a routine trip to town memorable because Grandma saw a rattlesnake in the road, near their house. She drove over it — and then backed up and drove over it again. This was repeated seemingly in excess. Then, still not satisfied, she drove home, returned with a shovel and proceeded to chop off its head and bury it. Grandma then used the snake as an illustration to Tammy about how we need to stay far away from evil things — because even when we think they are harmless (like the dead snake), they can still hurt us, just like a rattlesnake can poison even after he’s dead. Grandma felt proud of herself for not missing a teaching moment, and asked Tammy if she understood. Tammy nodded, “If I ever see a snake, I’ll get you and not Grandpa!”
Eggplant and squash aren’t the same color — but they are often both lumped in the uneaten food category, so the eggplant crayon brings to mind my aunt Brenda’s pancakes.
Trying to be sneaky healthy, she filled the batter with squash. Taking the plate of squashy pancakes to my Grandma, she said, “Mom, I want you to tell me these are the best pancakes in the whole world.” Grandma replied, “Honey, these are the best pancakes in the entire world.”
“Mom, you have to eat them first.”
You could almost see Grandma smirking as she replied, “I need to pray for them first.” Then she bowed her head, “Lord, thank you for the best pancakes in the entire world.”
The crayon pink symbolizes breast cancer awareness — to which our family has been very aware. Most days were good, but sometimes Grandma would get really frustrated with nurses, receptionists and doctors asking brightly, “How are you today?” Since my Grandma didn’t think they wanted to really know, she decided to come up with answers they really didn’t want to hear. Such as, “Well, the buzzards aren’t circling yet!”
Grandma gave us a gift. She didn’t leave us a box of four crayons, or even eight. She blessed her friends and family with the whole 96 pack plus the sharpener! Without her, it sometimes seems we are coloring with only blues and grays — but every time we tell a funny story about her, or recite one of her poems, we are actually pulling out those colored memories, and someday we’ll see those colors have painted a rainbow in our sky. So if you are ever missing a loved one, pick up a Razzmatazz crayon and remember:
“Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean we’ll miss you. Until we meet again!”
Brianna Walker occasionally writes about the Farmer’s Fate for the Blue Mountain Eagle.