Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pink Lady

My grandma, Janet Dorothy Wells. 1980-ish.

January is the month of my Grandma Dorothy's birth. This year, she would have been 95. I was looking through old photos recently, and I realized that in almost every photograph and memory I have of her, my grandma is wearing something pink - a brooch, a dress, a necklace, a flower in her hair ... and she was definitely the kind of lady who wore flowers in her hair.

Grandma Dorothy's life always seemed to me to be full of adventure. When her father died, for instance, leaving her mother alone with 10 young children, the family got up in the middle of the night and left New York to avoid being split up by the state authorities. Her mother told them they were going to be gypsies. At least, that's how the story goes. She loved to tell other stories, too, about wearing out her dancing shoes at the Inwood Park Dance Hall in Cincinnati, and how she met my grandfather. In the years before she died, Alzheimer's disease took her back to that dance hall many many times, and her inward world was full of words like "beautiful" and "wonderful." She was one of those women who could get away with calling anyone "Honey."

She was also full of advice. She taught me that "to be beautiful, you must suffer" whenever she had the job of brushing my hair; and to "always keep the ring; it's what you get for your trouble." But my all-time favorite: "Just because you told the boy you'd go to the dance with him, doesn't mean you promised to leave with him."

Grandma also had plenty of sorrow, and she was far from perfect. But she was gracious. Always kind and gentle. She saw beauty in everyone. Truly. In everyone.

And so won't you join me, one day before her birthday month is over, in wearing some pink? In honor of women like Grandma Dorothy. And if there's someone in your life that this post makes you think of, please do leave a comment and share him/her with the rest of us!


  1. My grandma died of Breast Cancer at the age of 65. She was quiet and timid and soft spoken, but she held my heart in a special way. We had a bond that is hard to explain. She made blanket for each of her grandchildren that is still large enough to be used as an adult. She asked us our favorite colors. My blanket is pink and white (I was 2). I dont like pink really, but I love that blanket. In fact when they told me that I should bring a comforting item to the hospital to have my first child, I brought that blanket. I took it with the second one as well. I am glad for the influence this women had on my life, even though it was for such a short time. Thanks for giving me a special reason to remember her today :)

  2. My Gammie had to have loved pink because it was all over her house. I was lucky enough to inherit a few of her velvit pink chairs. I love these chairs and even though they may not be "in style" or pretty to anybody else I cherish them and will forever have them in my own home reminding me of her and her rosy outlook on life. Thanks Rachel...this post was so sweet and just what I needed to read.

  3. My grandma died from Alzheimer's when she was 76. I don't think I ever saw her in pink though... maybe. She had more of the brown thing going on - at least that's what I remember with her retro jackets, couches and blankets laid across them. I love hearing her stories and remember those sweet times when she was getting close to the end and always talking about the things she still remembered, her pop and childhood.