Carol Jean Mitchell
Friday morning I awoke to NPR as I do most mornings. They played a segment from the Story Corp project that really tugged at my heart strings. The clip was of a man who had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease speaking with his wife about his memory and living in the moment with his family. My thoughts immediately turned to my grandmother, Carol Jean Mitchell, who struggled with that disease before passing away in 2002. She was taken mercifully before it got to the later stages.
As I lay there in bed, trying to hold back the tears of emotion and memory, I got to thinking about what I was doing (or not doing) to preserve memories of loved ones who have passed on. Those memories have become less concrete and more fluid as time marches forward, and it concerns me that I might be losing them.
So, I got an idea.
What if I posted my memories of Grandma and asked all of you to do the same? Then maybe all together we wouldn’t forget. So here it is: a solicitation for memories. I’ll start.
I remember the tortilla chip and cheddar cheese apple pie debacle, complete with melted wax sprinkles. She had a way of improvising when the required ingredients weren’t available that was either a hit or completely flopped. Uncle John has never had such a creative birthday dessert before or since.
I remember stories of growing up in Alamo, Nevada during the Great Depression. She played the trombone in the band. She went with the band to play somewhere important. I can’t remember where.
I remember making her cry when we got frustrated as children that she couldn’t play the movie we wanted to watch on the VCR. I have never felt like such a horrible person in my whole life as I did right then.
I remember getting all excited every time a brown UPS truck drove by our house, hoping they would deliver a package from Grandma containing treasures like toys she got for us from Pic ‘n Save and Twinkies.
I remember all the neighbor kids there in North Las Vegas coming over for every fund raiser under the sun and leaving not only meeting their quota, but also with a popsicle or ice cream from the freezer. She was the grandma for the whole block.
I know there’s more, but it slips my mind right now. What do you all remember?
8 thoughts on “Carol Jean Mitchell”
great idea. I have a terrible memory myself, so this is good for me too.
I’ll try to think of more, but one thing I remember is that she LOVED Morris the cat. She would let him lay on her while sitting in the recliner, and he would put his head under her coffee cup.
Thank you Noel. I’m so emotional right now over my dad it’s a little hard to do this without tears today but I had a couple I wanted to post this morning.
I remember chatting and hanging clothes together on the clothesline. I remember her rocking me in the rocking chair. I remember mornings with coffee and donuts and her neighborhood friends over and I remember her laugh. I remember having a special lunch out together at Kresge’s in the red booth and the toy horse she got me. I remember camping and her pancakes and being on the lake in the boat with her and dad. I remember how she adored my children and how I adored her for that.
I remember her letting me sit in between her legs on the recliner as we watched Days of Our Lives and Passions.
I remember her getting mad at me when I tried to wash a whole bowl of Cheerios down the back bathroom sink because I hated Cheerios.
I remember sitting out side on the white lawn chairs.
I remember the look in her eyes when she gave me a shot glass half full of milk, half full of coffee and told me not to tell.
I remember Honey Buns.
I remember her and I sitting in the air conditioned back room, watching Disney as she scratched my back.
I remember she encouraged my desire to not where clothes.
I remember picking Pomegranates with her.
I remember trips to McDonalds and McFrugals.
I remember folding laundry on the pool table.
I remember her yarn and fabric collection.
I remember when we went to the store when I was having a really bad day and as a gift she bought me three CDs; ATC, ABBA Teens, and 3LW. I listened to them so much in the Jacuzzi with her that I still remember every single word to every single song.
I remember one time she told me she could crochet me anything. I asked her to crochet me a birthday cake and she did… in like five minutes.
I remember loving and using to pieces the two yellow checkered with blue silkiness blankets she made me.
I remember anticipating packages from her, especially excited for her loving note.
I remember her kisses.
What a great idea.
My first memory of her was calling her and telling her that her daughter was missing from her apartment. When we found Glenna, the only way I could make amends was to propose to Glenna and marry her.
I remember her trying to convince Glenna and I that they make us get sealed in the temple while we are nude.
I remember her strange food. You never knew what your were going to get, but most of it was pretty good.
I remember her off color Mormon Jokes.
I remember her compassion for other people.
I remember her head would shift, but her eyes never would.
And do I remember her most used expression, ” Let me make a suggestion.”.
By the way, what a great suggestion Noel.
I remember one of the MANY times our car broke down and mom and dad came to our rescue in the middle of the desert. They brought the needed car part and a KFC dinner and chairs and blankets and we had a picnic right there (all the kids, too) on the side of the road while Mike and Dad worked on the car for hours it seemed. I remember mom working for a short time at Betty’s ice cream parlor and going in there and eating ice cream for free and watching her work thinking she had the coolest job. I remember how she always welcomed people into our home and lives. I remember she always fixed a lovely dinner, like her yummy roasts, when we were traveling into town to visit them. I remember when she shaved the cat.
I had a dream last night and she was in it. I always enjoy those dreams as it helps me remember what she looks like. She is always a younger age, like when I was younger. I remember when she rode me on the back of her bicycle to school.(or was it on the front of her bike?) She was wearing red lipstick at the time. She had a little gold filing in one of teeth toward the front of her smile. She always made sure we went on family vacations, mostly camping. She and dad used to play cards with friends and she’d buy candy bars and cut them into pieces and arrange them on a plate for snacks. She was a “quilt maker” with dad’s help. A room full of material. She sewed our clothes growing up. She could make you feel quilty. “Go ahead and go up to the Mountains with your freinds…..but I don’t think you should.” She had a hard life growing up. She took pride in her daughters and grandchildren. She kept friends for a lifetime. She would have made a terrific detective. She has a great husband.
Today I thought about Mom and Dad getting dressed up and going Square Dancing. I remember squeezing all those pomegranates and how mom’s fingers were stained from them. I remember these apricot-sticky-buns she made, her quilting in the living room, and going to Woolco with her in the blue van (that she had made curtains for).