It was 1976, at time and age when women did what their husbands wanted. Her husband wanted to return home to Hawaii and didn’t mind leaving their four kids, two of whom were still in high school, in California. After a few years on the island, the couple divorced. After the divorce, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. All of her children were beginning their adult lives across the ocean and her ex-husband wasn’t a shoulder to lean on. So, like any strong woman would, she went through chemotherapy alone and she beat cancer’s ass. She went on to marry a nice man named Calvin Ford. They retired in Apple Valley where Cal made character stands out of wood and she baked the most moist chocolate bunt cakes.
She is my grandma, Mary Miagyma. She’s brutally honest which isn’t always the best thing. She grew up in a misogynistic culture that was focused on appearances and I always saw how that shaped the way she spoke to everyone. She constantly has comments on her children and grandchildren’s weight and a couple backhanded compliments for anyone. [Side note: One time she was looking for me, I was just around the corner, and her response when she found me was “Oh! You’re just so nice and skinny that I couldn’t see you over there!” That was the greatest day of my life and I continue to brag that Grandma Mary gave a compliment one time.] She makes my mom nervous because we have a messy house but there are three daughter whose jobs are to keep the house clean. She always had snacks prepared for her kids when they got home from school to tied them over while she made lunch. Her house is always clean and orderly.
Although our ideals may collide, I love my grandma like no other. She raised four children who all went on to build their own loving families. She has nine grandchildren who adore everything about her. We love the way she sits down to make leis for each of our graduations including: middle school, high school, and college. We love the way she wears Hawaiian shirts everyday – even for graduations. We love her sarcastic humor that she instilled in our parents. We laugh every time she talks about silly haoles. I love the way she sends my dad newspaper clippings of comics she finds especially funny. My grandpa Cal used to love butterscotch and when he passed away, my grandma suddenly had pounds of hard butterscotch candies with no one to eat them. Unlike most older women, my grandma doesn’t carry candy in her purse on a regular basis but when she found out I love butterscotch, she always brought me a handful at a time from my grandpa’s stache. It’s a small gesture and I don’t know if she even remembers doing this for me for years but I’ll never forget.