Sunday, January 30, 2011

R.I.P Black Grandma 06/12/1929-12/13/2010

Not to get all depressing but Ray Chi's Grandma passed away and it sucks.

When you roll the dice and move thousands of miles away from everyone, you kind of miss some things, like memorial services and your family. So in lieu of one of my usual adventures I will tell you about my Black Grandma and what I wrote for the service, it's not the same as being there but "sometimes shit don't go right."

I know what your all wondering right now, how the hell does he have a black grandma? Well when Ray Chi's brother and him were young, they had trouble deciphering between their two Grandmothers, had a dog named "Bingo" and she became Bingo Grandma, the other had jet black hair and so was dubbed forevermore "Black Grandma."

Black Grandma was Ray Chi's Mom's-Mom and had a big ole Catholic family of five girls and one boy. Although I like to identify as American by heritage, being born here and all, everybody has to come from somewhere and she hailed from Ireland by way of Montana, (explaining my love affair with booze and street brawls.)

She is directly to blame for my love of every thing "vintage" and the inability to throw things away (or others may call it being a Pack Rat), since she indoctrinated me into the world of garage sales at a very early age. She had her own antique store, Red Lamp Antiques on the Seattle waterfront which amazingly Ray Chi's infamous loft ended up being seven floors above some twelve or so years later, and where I was somehow allowed to work alone at 12 or 13 years old, child labor laws be damned.

Grandma definitely did not have an easy life, facing more tragedy and strife than one woman should have to face in a lifetime, but somehow she got through it with the help of a legendary sense of humor, an unfathomably stubborn streak, and waaay too many cigarettes.

Along her journey she had time to dream a little and invented a paint lid that saved paint and mess by not allowing paint to build up along the rim of the can, (also continuing the family tradition of narrowly escaping ultimate success when one of the proto-type manufacturers circumvented her patent and went direct to the paint company, cutting her out of the loop.) You can still see her handiwork on every "easy pour can" in your local paint department aisle, damn bastards.

Anyway she will be missed, here are my parting words for the memorial.


"I am sorry I could not be there today to celebrate the life of my Black Grandma, but I am thousands of miles away and missing her and most of you, but I know you will still manage to start a big family fight without me.

When someone you love leaves this life, you look back on all the things they taught you, all the lessons learned, the little things that you picked up here and there and you wonder. You wonder about the tiny quirks that make up your own personality, the small things that you think of making you you, and that maybe, just maybe are thanks to someone else.

These are the things that I can thank my Grandma for, whether she knew it or not;

She taught me that no matter what the day holds and what problems may lie ahead for you, it doesn't really matter yet and you shouldn't even worry about it until you have your morning cup of coffee.

One of the happiest moments of Grandmas life was when she won the award at my elementary school for "Youngest Grandma" and believe me she never let me forget it. I guess it rubbed off on me, cause they tell me I look younger than most other 41 year olds (thank god) and I truly believe it is thanks to Grandma. At an early age she preached to me about the importance of taking your daily vitamins and eating healthy, real foods. I remember seemingly hours long trips to some mysterious far away farm (which was probably just Woodinville but when your a kid it seems like a million miles) to buy fresh brown eggs and WHOLE milk.

She would make my cousin, my Brother and I "Magic Milkshakes" which aren't exactly as fun as they sound, they are really just a bunch of vitamin powders, yogurt, wheat germ, eggs and other weird stuff blended up to make you think its a milkshake. In fact now that I think about it there wasn't even a single scoop of ice cream in them! So thanks to Grandma I take my handful of vitamins every day like clockwork, because I also learned if you take your vitamins and eat healthy, then it's ok to give in to other vices like say a couple of cigarettes here and there...

Grandma also taught me about a honest days work and the value of a hard earned dollar, because when you tell her you'll come and help stack firewood at her house for $5, you realize after stacking the 2nd cord of wood in the pouring rain, that maybe, just maybe, you should have negotiated a little better.

She taught me that everything in life is negotiable, and the price isn't really the price, and how are you ever going to get what you want unless you ask for it? (Especially if what you want is some antique table you know is worth a few hundred bucks, but they have it marked $75 but you know you can screw them down to $50.)

She imparted to me that sometimes brand new things aren't always the best and that something older and used can be better because it has character and charisma and a story and your not going to see ten of them in every other place and this thing is going to be one of a kind and cool.

She taught me to hold on to your precious things and keep them close, cherish your jewels of youth because they hold memories and time that you can never get back to (..and they might be worth a lot of money someday, unless of course you never sell them but instead just pack them around with you your whole life like a hoarder.)

She taught me to look beyond the obvious flaws that others might see and find the value in things that maybe just need a little help. A bit of polish, or some refinishing or maybe just a helping hand, whether it's a broken picture frame or someone in your own family. You shouldn't just throw things away, you should try to see what's inside, and get to the real beauty of the thing.

The most important thing Grandma gave me was my own Mother who was the most incredible person in the world to me, and without my Grandma there would be no Mom and then no me. I know both Grandma and my Mother appreciated the special time and care Mary and Verna gave them when they needed it the most and I can never thank you enough for it. I know it meant the world to them.

One last thing Grandma gave me and her whole family the precious gift of laughter and her amazing sense of humor, because whatever sort of messed up, unbelievable crap life throws at you, just laugh about it cause what the hell else are you going to do? There isn't a depressing situation, awkward circumstance or horrible pitfall in the world that a well timed good laugh can't make better, and if that doesn't work just make fun of somebody in your family.

Go ahead and try it today, cause trust me it works."

That's all I got,
Ray Chi


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