“Run and grab my flip flop and get your ass back here before the count of five,” the familiar voice commanded. Tears began streaming down my face as I dashed to follow her order. Forget five seconds, I made it back within two. Please gramma, I’ll never do it again, I swear to God, I really, really, really promise!” I pleaded. (My offense? I had stolen money from her purse to buy sweets from the ice cream truck. It was not the first time- and it wouldn’t be the last either.) Still crying, I handed her the flip flop and reluctantly assumed the position, bracing myself for the spanking that was sure to follow.

But just as she was about to administer the first spank, there was a sharp knocking, followed quickly by the sound of the front door creaking open. “You home Rose!?” a voice called out. “Boy do I have some juicy news for you…” My grandma’s nosy neighbor friend had let herself in, her wide eyes reading the situation unfolding in front of her. “Saved by the bell... or knock,” grandma said, begrudgingly. Her friend laughed, asking “what she do this time?” (This was not a new or surprising sight. Between three brothers and myself, a spanking by grandma was a regular occurrence.)

I laughed too, relieved that I was going to get to skip the spanking. “Oh you think it’s funny do you-“ my grandma began. Thaaaaaa-WACK!!! I let out a scream and instantly started the ugly cry. Hard. I clenched for the next smack, but it never came (at least not that time). “Now stay in here and write ‘I will not steal’ 100 times,” my grandma sternly instructed me before closing my door and jumping right into the neighborhood gossip with her friend. 

My grandma was (most of the time) a pleasant, fun, and carefree woman. She was the type of woman who wore, said, and did whatever the hell she wanted whenever she wanted. Yet she was also one of the most loving, caring, and beautiful women you would have ever met.

When I returned home early from a sleepover because the girls were teasing me for bringing a blanket instead of a sleeping bag (we couldn’t afford one), she said to me: “Oh for Christ sake, I told you those snotty spoiled little brats didn’t deserve your friendship. Wait till they see all of the amazing things you’re going to do with what little you have. One day, they will have nothing but their snot, fat asses, and asshole husbands and you’ll be be a big time artist, more beautiful than ever and have the family of your dreams. You don’t need a stupid ass sleeping bag to do that. Don’t let those brats stupidity get to you, who the hell wants to sleep in a bag on a hard cold ground with bugs all over anyways!?” We both made the yuck face.

Just then the telltale music announced the neighborhood ice team truck’s imminent presence. “Here, get me a popsicle too” She handed me money.

I owe so much of my success to Grandma Rose, the woman who raised me to believe in myself and whose guidance built the foundation to make me the woman I am today. I am so very happy that she got to meet my son, Lincoln, the other half of my gallery’s namesake. Grandma Rose is no longer with us, but I’m sure that she’s raising some hell up there, singing karaoke, and winning Yahtzee. Even though she is gone, her legacy lives on through myself, Lincoln, and my art, which will be here long after we are all gone.