My grandmother, yes the one who left her family when my mom was 16, possessed a colorful expression for story. I don't mean in the expletive way, but she truly described incidents, objects and people in a most memorable way for only having an 8th grade country school education.
I thought of her descriptions as I crossed the Shenango River which to her was "that black river". She worked as a nurse's aid and she told me once she was in the elevator with a tray of breasts, and they were just a jiggling. A doctor entered the elevator with her holding this tray and he made some strange comment and she felt so embarrassed. I suppose she was a very young woman, and health care was a bit different in the late 19teens.
Pat Nixon was "Grinny Pat" Even though Grandma was a staunch Republican, if there was something she didn't like about a person, she didn't hold back. As an ardent supporter of Alf Landon, she walked 6 miles from Sharon, PA to the Tam-O-Shanter golf course outside of W. Middlesex to hear his kick off speech in his campaign against FDR in 1936. Maybe that's when she left Lew.
When my mom asked her why she married my grandfather, Grandma replied sweetly at first, "Oh, he was so handsome and all the girls wanted him, but I got him," ending with a disgusted tone to her voice.
Grandma got dreamy when she talked about her daughter who died. "Somewhere My Love" would come on the radio or play on one of her music boxes, she held her hands to her chest, look upward and say, "Oh, I love this song, because someday I'll be with June." I could almost see her in heaven with Aunt June and I didn't even remember her.
She was the first to try to explain April Fools to me. I still think of people parading around in white pretending to be something. Her images left a great impression on my young mind.
Grandma had the flair for dramatic. She even won an award for allucution. Her tone and vivid words brought her stories to life. A good hearted laugh often accompanied her stories. She gathered an audience, too. Take her to the mall and by the time we were done shopping, she had made a friend with a complete stranger on the bench.
When she did write, she had a dictionary handy. I used to think it was for spelling, but I now believe it was for meaning and new words. Her words and expression set the tone for great storytelling and I am back in her living room watching her face telling another story that ignited my imagination.