Harriet Patten, 1913 - 2003
It has been a tough winter for grandparents in my family. Grandma Patten passed away in her sleep Friday night. Dad, Connie and Harriet were all able to be there that afternoon, and had been visiting her frequently for the last few weeks, and I was able to talk with her on the phone several times. It's so odd to think that I won't see her or Grandpa Kuhns again.
Grandma was very much a part of my life when I was a little kid. I remember lots of family dinners, with Rob and I waiting to be excused so we could go watch The Wonderful World of Disney and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. That house on Marvone Lane is still what I think of as Grandma's house. I never really got used to her condo, or the nursing home. I spent so much time there. My best friend Suzanne lived across the circle. For a long time Rob lived nearby, and we played at Grandma's a lot. We'd sneak (at least we thought we were sneaking--I suppose it probably really wasn't very stealthy) into the formal living room and roll marbles and hot wheels down the legs of the driftwood-base coffee table, even though we knew we weren't supposed to. I don't remember Grandma ever really getting mad, though. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I never heard her yell at anybody. Hm. Grandma was always Just Right. The few bits of Emily-Post-style etiquette I've managed to absorb in my life are probably mostly her doing, and I don't regret any of it. (Although I certainly complained about it enough when The Rules were being imposed on me.) I remember the bottom drawer of the dresser in the Blue Room was filled with scarves and hats and costume jewelry. I loved that drawer! And when I was in college, she gave me some "real" clothes of hers and great-aunt Connie's that I just loved to wear--so retro and elegant.
One of my favorite memories of Grandma is the day she took me to a fabric store and let me pick out some yardage. I chose a turquoise velour. When we got back to the house, she took out some grocery sacks and made a dress pattern. Then she cut out the fabric and sewed a dress for me. I was astounded even then, and it still amazes me to this day that she could do that. She said she used to love to sew, and that she and Connie (I think?) had made lots of their own clothes. Sometimes she would let me look in her closet at all her shoes, and sometimes she would show me the things in her jewelry box and let me try on the pins and earrings. I think I was always a little bit intimidated by her, but I never doubted for a minute that she loved me without reservation.
I'm going to miss you, Grandma. I love you.