Sunday, September 13, 2015

Holiday tribute to a very special Lady...

'Awntie Harriet & Tomaso pose in front of Lynn Sommer's Baker Electric at the LeMay ACM, 2013. (The Tomaso Collection)
Although I've never celebrated Grandparent's Day before. Which in the words 'O Tacoma Bureau Chief Mary Ellen does seem a trifle bit like a Hallmark Holiday cooked up to sell more cards, nonetheless, I'm celebrating I-T this year in honour of my late 'Awntie Harriet who would have been 96 in 10-days  time...

Harriet Gilmore Anderson was not only a dutiful wife and dedicated Mum' to her five  children, but also a very special person to me, akin to a Grandparent, (along with countless others) who I had the unique privilege of spending countless minutes, hours, days and weeks with over the past two decades.

Harriet was the youngest of three children, having two older brothers named Tom and Ward,  the latter I never met, while Thomas Gilmore, who seemed to me initially to be a somewhat grouchy 'Ol Man, yet was actually just fairly reserved in nature, as we shared several laughs after I got to know him somewhat over the years.

Tom was part of "the Greatest Generation," having served aboard the original USS Enterprise Aircraft carrier during WWII as a top notch radioman personally requested by Admiral Nimitz.

While Tom's love of Ham Radio in part led to one of our favourite yarn's, when he'd volunteered for the long defunct Olympus Rally, where  we'd chortle over Rally legend John Buffum careening down dirt roads flyin' over the 'Yumps at 80mph-plus!

Along with telling me about seeing the Dirigible Airship USS Shenandoah ZR1 fly overhead Tacoma with its growling (eight?) air cooled  engines; as this story has always intrigued Mwah, since it occurred in 1924 with the 680-foot behemoth being powered by multiple V-8 Packard gasoline engines...

But what about the lady in question, whom Y'all have come to know as thy esteemed 'Awntie Harriet over the years on these many No Fenders BLOB' pages? Which she christened I-T many Moons ago. And who  just refused to leave her beloved Dash Point in Tacoma, whilst we used to tease her 'bout having to stand at the sink all day looking out the window, since she just wouldn't wash the dishes when her Mum asked her to!

As I have countless memories of Harriet, with that entertaining yarn title Saying Barca' being part of the inspiration for this long winding Grandparents Day tome,

As I still fondly recall the two of us sitting side-by-side in our dueling Lazy boy recliners watching the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix to which Harriet droned on continuously: "We've been there..."

As where do I begin? As 'Awntie Harriet was one of my biggest supporters in life, who used to bug me for my latest BLOB' stories when she could still read, albeit I still chuckle over discovering that an epic 35+ page Japan trip report was utilized for a shopping list; Hya!

Whilst Harriet used to drive me to & from the Tacoma Dome bus station in her mid-eighty's after I'd lost my normal eyesight, which made it most entertaining to push her up Mount Rainier each year, for which she never complained about my wheelchair driving - during her "Mr. Toad's Wild Rides!"

As I'd have to say that my most favourite trip with her was that glorious outing at Mother Speedway, when at nearly 87-years young, Harriet went to her one and only Formula 1 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where we rejoiced in our Hero 'DER TERMINATOR's (Michael Schumacher) victory! As I can still recall doing my Schumi' victory baton dance that day; BURR-RUMP, BURR-RUMP!

As surely Y'all have read that story about Harriet rubbin' elbows with a fresh faced 21yr old German F1 rookie named Nico by now, right?

Although I've been thinking Nico's NOT so Great Anymore, especially after his petulance over this year's Hungarian Grand Prix weekend...

As it's still hard to believe that Harriet got sent on an Aeroplane  alone at 86 with the full expectation that Claudio' and Mwah would have arrived in Indianapolis after leaving by car just three days ahead with NO way of reaching us...

And like her fierce devotion to remaining in Dash Point, she also would regularly say: You mean that 'lil boy from Enumclaw won? As Harriet's true favourite driver was local Warshingtonion' Kasey Kahne, which I wrote the following for Harriet after she'd fallen and broken a rib, all of which was before she lost her memory.

As I still recall giving her a few Kahne mementos, i.e.; T-Shirt and Hot Wheels car for her 90th Birthday, her last major milestone I recall having a grand celebration for at The Cliffhouse, one of her favourite dining spots.

Harriet poses with a 1919 Cadillac, produced the same year she was born! As part of LeMay ACM's mammoth collection, circa 2013. (The Tomaso Collection)
But Harriet was  a "Party Girl!" As I still fondly recall her excitement over going out with us to celebrate one of my latter birthday's at a local Sports Bar which just so happened to be airing some 'lil Pacific Northwest Pigskin-team called the Seahawks playing those dreaded '40WHINERZ in Candlestick Park on Monday Night Football... While for her final birthday, we just stayed home and Claudio' ate A-L-L of the Ice Cream instead! 

When Harriet first began displaying signs of her impending Dementia, it was hard to know whether or not she was kidding? While it didn't help that she'd regularly ask: "Am  I being Goofy?" Then she'd ask me over 'N over: What does your shirt say? And when are you going down to the deep south, which was  code for Arizona...

Yet I'll admit I must have enjoyed her asking what my racing T-Shirts said? As one in particular stands out. A-grip? Ageep? Agickoe? Agwipe? As she'd nervously laugh over my explaining its a six-legged Dog, the mascot for Italy's Agip Oil company, which unfortunately got  replaced by Shell's larger cheque to la Scuderia, nee Ferrari in the 1990's.

While ironically, or Karmically? As I cannot S-E-E SHIT these Dazes! I pulled a T-Shirt out - just the other day & said to myself, what is I-T? This isn't My Beautiful Agip T-Shirt; Hooah!

And good 'Ol 'Awntie Harriet just refused to quit dropping food on the floor to feed Mary Ellen's Hoonds, since NOBODY ever feeds them! As she'd ask tirelessly, but who's gonna take care  of them?

While another part of her increased Dementia was the countless hours spent reading the same headline and few sentences of her beloved TNT  (Tacoma News Tribune) over and over and over! Along with singing various childhood "Ditty's," as once she got stuck on one it was time to "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over;" Hooah!

Princess Papooli has plenty of Papaya she likes to give away. And  to all she says Oh Meea, Oh Mya, You really should try a piece of Princess Papooli's papaya!

Or the 'lil boy in his "Grass shack who just wants to eat Poi where the Fish swim by..." Along with a few more favourites, including: Forever Blowing Bubbles, or Gone Swimmin' - where somebody took my bathing suit and left me with a smile...

As Harriet was especially fond of Hawaii, always wanting me to take her along on my last few year's jaunts to Kona on the B-I-G' ISLAND, as ironically I found myself this PAST January at the very spot of Captain Cook's which inspired that little "grass hut" song!

While Harriet's being hard of hearing led to multiple hours of laughter as I'd say China and she'd say Papaya? Yeah, we're A-L-L out of papaya 'cause the earthquake in China wiped them out; Hooah!

Or when I was asking Mary Ellen about who's become The Sleeping Michael, aka Herr Sckewmacher - to which Harriet inquired: MacGyver?

Alas, I knew the die was cast when she didn't even know who our Hero was anymore. Then not recognizing Mwah  and finally dying in her sleep this past December 3rd, just some eleven months after Michael had fallen down and hit his head on a rock during his skiing holiday accident, which it's probably a good thingy' that Harriet never knew.

Yet Harriet lived a long, good, happy 95-years, and smiled daily and laughed allot while reading her "Funnies," (comics) until they were no longer funny since she didn't understand them. Along with until just months from the end, when she became bed-ridden, still  wished for "4-wheels Rolling!"

As I know Harriet would have LUV'ED being the center 'O Attenzione at our recent Family Reunion - not to mention Mary Ellen & I discussing how we'd wished we could have taken her on the Gondola at Crystal Mountain this August, but knew she'd be scared outta her "Gord" on the journey back down that Oh So STEEP Terrain - sitting nervously in her wheelchair securely inside the Gondola's glass riding car!

As Happy Grandparents Day to Harriet  and ALL the others  out there...