Wednesday, September 2, 2009

remembering "baba"

Last Friday, after ninety years of life, my grandmother, Olga passed away after suffering a good portion of the past decade with Alzheimers. It's amazing how the disease can have an effect on family and friends, yet she remained pleasant up until her death. I give a good deal of credit to my mom, who would visit her at the home on a regular basis to feed her and care for her. Still, despite the hardships throughout the past seven or so years, we were relieved my grandmother was no longer suffering, and we chose to remember the good times, and there were many.

A descendant of Russian immigrants, Olga, or "Baba", as we all knew her, was one of the main reasons I love to draw. On numerous occasions, my dad would drive my mom, brother and I out to Johnstown, Pennsylvania to visit Baba, as well as my dad's parents. Baba always had her kitchen table stacked with paper, pencils and crayons, as well as windmill cookies in a jar, ready for us. Sometimes my cousins who also lived in Johnstown, would join my brother and I for long draw-a-thons, conjuring up lost Star Wars scenes, imaginary Pac Man and Donkey Kong adventures and prehistoric beasts. Baba loved when I drew her dinosaurs, with their names written next to them, however, she wasn't a fan of the long-necked ones 'cause they reminded her too much of snakes. Her favorite subject however was lamb and sheep - something I was never fond of drawing but was glad to for her. The amazing thing is, she actually held on to most of the drawings we made for her, many stacked away safely in folders.

One of my fondest memories with Baba was when she took my brother and I into town and bought us Gremlin trading cards. Later she took us for our first taste of onion rings at the local Burger King. When we got back to her house, my brother and I would spend the rest of the day rocking back and forth on her porch swing, looking at our cards.

Those and many more good memories will always remain dear to me and to her friends and family, and it's Baba I have to thank most of all for my love of art (and onion rings). I can only be so fortunate to live as long as she did!