She always had a joke to tell and after she delivered the punchline, the walls would quiver from her hearty laugh. She worked long hard days hemming tee-shirts in a factory and never once complained. She was a mother not unlike my own. Selfless. Strong. Sympathetic.

Friday nights throughout my childhood were spent with her, making Coke floats and watching Dallas. Every fall she would take my brother and me¬†shopping for “Back to School clothes” and every winter she would fill her tiny living room with Christmas gifts for us all.

She drove a simple gray car and lived in a modest, aging house. The floors creaked with every step she took as she prepared a feast for us every Sunday afternoon. When the February cold whisked through the thin walls, she would leave the oven on and open the door to supplement the heat from the wood-burning stove.

She smelled of almond bark and cherries.

I never heard her speak an unkind word about another living soul, even though life had given her just cause to do so. She was the woman I hope to be someday. She was everything a grandmother should be.

And today would have been her birthday.