Memories of My Grandma

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Today I am writing to you from a hotel room in Folsom, California. I am here to bid goodbye to and remember my dear Grandma Judy Wagner. There are few people on this planet that I love more than my Grandma and as one might expect my emotions at the moment are quite tender and overflowing, but I thought I might take a second to explain why I loved her so much.

It’s interesting because we all have those people in our lives who are complicated to love. That are difficult, demanding, frustrating, even cruel but they are a part of our lives so we learn to love them. This was not the case with my Grandma. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t adore her. Sure we had a few mild tiffs but they were always resolved by mealtime and quickly forgotten. She was just so darn lovable.

There are a lot of reasons I loved my Grandma but one of the biggest is that she got a lot of joy out of life and out of introducing her loved ones to what she loved. It’s always been strange to me that she enjoyed morose books like Ethan Frome because whether it was a new place for muffins or a Broadway show her love of what she loved was contagious. When I was 9 or 10 she took me to see Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco, and we both sat mouth agape when the chandelier came crashing towards the audience. It was a magical moment!

When I was 10 I saw Home Alone with her and it is my earliest memory of laughing uproariously at a film. I will always be sad that I never got to go to Hawaii with her because we both shared a love of the ocean and those beautiful islands. I remember many times her coming to visit us in Maryland and since it was the old days when calling long distance was expensive I enjoyed writing her letters for many years as a child.

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My Grandma loved Christmas, Easter, the Rockettes, yummy platters of simple food, theme parties, New York City, Hawaii, tap dancing, Gone with the Wind, cozy detective novels, and getting her hair and nails done each week.

One of the last real conversations I had with her before her heart troubles made communication more challenging I had sent her a cheesy bracelet for Christmas with the saying ‘God couldn’t be everywhere so he gave us Grandmothers’. After she received it she called to thank me, and we chatted for an hour so. We talked about the family, my various activities, and we both said our I love yous. I remember the conversation because I had to step out of a church activity to take her call. Boy am I glad I did! Life is funny like that. It gives you moments of connection that are so easy to miss! I’m going to try and grab them from now on.

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My Grandma loved pomp and ceremony. She loved attending graduations, weddings and celebrating the accomplishments of her family. I am sure more than one of us grandkids have gone through the processional of graduation more because we knew how much Grandma would love it than it was our true desire to so. I think she was just really proud of us and loved being a part of our lives. We loved her right back for it.

When my Grandma first had her heart problems my sister lived nearby. I remember calling her and saying ‘make sure to let me know if I need to fly home because Grandma and I have an extra special bond’ and Megan saying  ‘you’re like the 10th cousin who has called saying that today’ and it was the truth. Everyone felt like they were the most special of all grandkids and the most loved. That’s such a gift. I hope I can love people in that way.

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One of my happiest memories with my Grandma occurred in December 2000. My cousin Lisa and I developed a scheme where we would promise to go to see the Rockettes if my Grandma would go with us to New York. Of course in reality we loved the Rockettes so it was a win-win situation. The 3 of us spent 4 or 5 days in New York City eating pizza, going to shows (Beauty and the Beast, The Music Man and the Rockettes Spectacular) and enjoying Christmas in New York City. Little did we know that Lisa would pass away the next April. Now they are both gone, and I’m so grateful for that sacred time we had together.

Other memories…I remember her calling to cheer me up when I was depressed at work each Wednesday at lunch. I remember swimming at her very unique pool that had a huge shallow end. I remember hearing of her trips and the yummy things they had and looking through her stamp collection (or her collection of Mickeys, Santas, watches etc). I always loved the way her home smelled like a new car and the way you could run through the hallways with glee (to the point once I ran my hand through her stained glass window and had to go to the hospital). I remember going to a family reunion with her brother’s family and how much that meant to her (we had whole lobsters!).

I remember when she was babysitting us, and we brought home a nest of quail a neighbor had ‘given’ us. I remember watching Christmas Vacation and her laughing so hard she could barely breathe when the aunt offers the pledge of allegiance as grace or when the squirrel comes out of the tree. I remember watching Gone with the Wind with her and looking at her beautiful Scarlet O’hara inspired doll collection.

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When I was 8 or 9 she got me my first doll but only did so after I swore I would take care of it. I was a messy kid (and messy adult), and she didn’t believe I was ready for such a special doll. After that, it was most prized, and I’m proud I still have it to this day, box and all! When my little cousin destroyed one of my dolls she had given me I was furious not because of my heirloom but because it was a betrayal of a promise I had made to my Grandma. A betrayal not of my own doing! How dare she!

I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t want to be like my Grandma. She was simply the best, and I will miss her dearly. I hope she is enjoying catching up with Lisa up in the Spirit World and that she knows how much I love her.

As for me down here on Earth I will cry a lot today and recommit myself to be more like her. Thanks Grandma for all the memories. I love you!

‘Victoria’ Season 3 Review

If you follow me on social media you know I am much more of a movie person than TV. I prefer the brevity of a movie with 2 hours of a story and then I’m done and can move on with my life. So if I stick with a television show for an entire season it is pretty compelling. If I watch it for multiple seasons than you know I love it. Well, I just finished season 3 of the PBS show Victoria, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Victoria consists of 8 episodes each season and tells the story of Queen Victoria beginning when she assumes rule at 18 in 1838 and her marriage with Prince Albert in 1840. Victoria and Albert were a real love match and had 9 children together.

The show does such a good job capturing the highs and lows of a marriage. Jenna Coleman is fantastic as Victoria and she has such chemistry with Tom Hughes as Albert. She is a strong woman obviously as the queen but he is not without his own source of strength. They feed off each other so well and it feels like they are actually married!

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Season 3 starts in 1848 and Victoria is facing a time of upheaval with a group called  the Chartists that are seeking better conditions for the working class.Victoria, believing they are a work of peaceful protest wants them to be able to deliver their charter while Lord Palmerston  (Laurence Fox) and others are against it. Members of Victoria’s own staff become involved when her handmaid Nancy (Nell Hudson) becomes engaged and then married to the cook Mr Francatelli (Ferdinand Kingsley). I also really enjoyed Abigail Turner as a castle employee (not sure what her role is) who is both intrigued and disappointed by the revolutionaries.

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The dreaded cholera comes into play and Prince Albert is very involved with a hotheaded scientist and inventor Henry Cole (David Newman). The Irish famine is ending and people are journeying to America. We get a little elicit side romance between Duchess Sophie (Lily Travers) and a footman (David Burnett).

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Finally there is lots of debate and conflict over how Albert and Victoria are going to raise their children and what their various roles mean. Albert becomes in charge of the Great Exhibition of 1851. This is all very compelling, well acted, directed and of course costumed! It’s delicious programming!

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The only part that didn’t work for me is a plot thread involving Victoria’s half sister Feodora (Kate Fleetwood). I know she is supposed to be selfish and devious but I found her character more annoying than a satisfying adversary. It just didn’t work for me and I found myself looking away whenever it got back to her story.

Other than that it was 8 episodes of great programming! I highly recommend it. It’s a rare show that has kept up its quality through 3 seasons. We will see if it can do 4 after what happens in the finale. A lot of the credit goes to writer and creator Daisy Goodwin who has read Victoria’s diaries and seems to have a real admiration and love for her. Jenna Coleman naturally deserves the other half of the credit. She’s remarkable in the role and deserves all the emmys if you asked me!

Have you gotten to see Victoria Season 3? What did you think of it? Let’s talk in the comments section.

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The Experience of Being Hated (‘Shazam’, ‘Dumbo’ and More) — Rachel’s Reviews

Hey guys! As many of you know who follow my channel or other social media, I’ve had quite the last week! It’s ironic because at the beginning of March I wrote a piece on my other blog chronicling my life experience becoming a film critic. It had always been a dream of mine and it […]

via The Experience of Being Hated (‘Shazam’, ‘Dumbo’ and More) — Rachel’s Reviews