Grandma Snail passed away this Tuesday, April 7. A lover of stationary, rubber stamps, and wax seals, Grandma Snail wrote me many cards and letters throughout my life. She also kept every card I ever made her and Grandpa Snail and every letter and postcard I ever sent them. Here are some selections from what you might call a 25-year correspondence. (Dictation taken by Mama Snail)Grandma Snail had the most beautiful garden surrounding her home, with tropical frond-lined paths, nandina bushes, purple and white lilies of the Nile, a trellis roof covered in purple wisteria, and an ever-abundant lemon tree. We’d use the lemons to bake the most delicious lemon bars. Grandma Snail also taught me how to grow hyacinth bulbs. But most of all she was known for her roses. She grew many kinds, but especially loved Just Joeys, big apricot roses. I’ll always associate that peachy color with Grandma Snail.
“This [is] called a Borong [sic. Barong]. A costume of a mythacle [sic.] animal that is in a play that we have seen and It’s believed to keep evil away. We’ve been to alot [sic.] of dances, temples, and seen many beuatiful [sic.] views. Today me and my mom took a class on doing batik. We’re both doing a canvis [sic.] batik. I hope this gets there before I do!”St. James’s Palace, Liam Wales, 1999I knew I had to send Grandma Snail a card from the Ritz tearoom because she was the one who introduced me to tea. When I was a wee snail, we’d have afternoon tea “pawties.” Grandma Snail had an assortment of miniature china cups, and it was a serious business choosing which cup I wanted to use. Grandma Snail was the only person I knew who always had both white and brown sugar cubes on hand. When no one was around, I’d sometimes eat them out of the bowl.
For a few years, at Christmastime, we attended a Teddy Bear Tea at LA’s Beverly Wilshire Hotel. One year, Grandma Snail sewed me a dress just for the occasion. It was black and gray check patterned taffeta with iridescent pink threads. The bodice was black velvet, and best of all, it had puffy sleeves. Teddy wore a red a green bow.
A birthday card for Grandma Snail. I went through a phase of making these cards in which I’d arrange a collage on a piece of wax paper, then sprinkle crayon shavings over it. Then I’d place a piece of wax paper on top of it all, and iron the two pieces together, melting the wax. I’d place folded paper inside, so I could write inside the card, and sew the two layers together like a book. The finishing touch was a bookmark-like ribbon. By the Sea Shore,Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1883Grandma Snail’s 80th birthdayBy then it was Mama Snail taking dictation for Grandma Snail, instead of for me. Funny how it all came back to sunflowers.