I hopped down the steps of the school bus and ran toward home without saying goodbye to my friends. As I climbed the concreted steps to the front door, I breathed in deeply. Cigarette smoke. Grandma was here!
Grandma Druchunas–we always identified our grandparents by last name–would be watching her stories about this time. One Life to Live, Days of Our Lives, General Hospital. She watched them every afternoon when she finished dusting, vacuuming, and hemming or stitching buttons onto any clothes mom or I had sewn and left hanging up, unfinished, next to the sewing machine. It would be a few hours until Mommy got home from work, but then we would go goody shopping.
Goodies were mostly sweet things, but not only candy. There would be grapes and peaches, oranges and apples too. And ice cream and chocolate pudding. And Devil Dogs. Even the meals Grandma served for dinner were different than what Mom would make. There would be stuffed cabbage rolls and kielbasa, chicken chow mein and spare ribs from the Chinese restaurant. And every Friday there would be pizza or potato pancakes. A special treat, I thought, but it was Grandma’s way of abstaining from meat on Friday.
It’s not that Mom didn’t let us eat goodies. But we never had enough to make them last all week. I asked my mother once why we never ordered spare ribs except when Grandma was visiting. “They cost too much,” she said. Mom made $1.95 per hour working at the fabric store. Dad sent $75 a month in child support and alimony. “Don’t eat all the Devil Dogs in one day,” she’d remind us every Saturday after we got home from food shopping. When Grandma came, we had enough goodies to last all week.