Pedicures, beach sand, and salty old women

They might be ticked that I referred to them as old women, but salty, of that bit they would approve.

Last weekend, my family attended a much-delayed celebration of life for Steve’s Aunt Joan, his mother’s (Mary’s) sister. Joan was very much a bonus grandmother to my kids, present at most every holiday and a constant for beach week over the years. As my niece was quick to point out recently, she was the sister who paid her nail salon debt on time during beach week, a most appreciated presence.

Joan was many things to many people and last weekend I tried to really think about who she had been to me. Part friend, part mother, but mostly a kind of guide of sorts. She was never one to cave or pretend to be someone she was not. She found joy in simple things. Reading, food, walks on the beach, and time spent with her grandchildren (both actual and bonus).

At this event last weekend, we were asked to share a memory of Joan, My daughter and her girl cousins remembered Joan and Mary and the nail salon, the daily removing and repolishing of nails, all neatly tallied on a spreadsheet so no one got away without paying up! Except Grandmom. Even after her passing, the debt passed down to her sons. And who could blame them. It’s something Grandmom would definitely have approved of.

My memory of Joan also has to do with pedicures at the beach. Like most families, we would visit the local grocery to restock on necessities during the week (pop tarts, lucky charms, milk, lunch meat, more pop tarts). Joan, Mom and I were at the local Food Lion in Nag’s Head one year maybe 15 years ago. The girls were about 10, 9 and 5. They had been operating their nail salon and their biggest customers were their Moms, Aunt Joan, Grandmom and my husband. Grandmom and Joan were rocking their beach pedicures in the Food Lion that day. Multi-colored toes with sparkles and flecks of sand. Lumpy, uneven layers on each and every toe. As we waited at the deli counter, a woman (perfectly groomed and decidedly out of place) commented on the pedicures, which both Mary and Joan proudly proclaimed their grandchildren had done. This woman said she’d never consider going out with that sort of thing on her toes. Joan and Mary just laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

Beach week. You either get it. Or you don’t. These salty old women got it. And that was Joan. And Mary.

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