Friday, August 27, 2010
My grandma Kay, Kathleen Allaire, was a woman with a personality that was larger than life. Whether you loved her or hated her, she always made an impression and nobody ever forgot her. Even those who met her only in passing were marked by her strength of will and her passion, even up until the end.
As a child, my best memories of my grandmother were in her spectacular house. The Newton-Allaire house has been in her family for 140 years and she spent her life renovating it and turning it into a proper Victorian mansion. To me, she seemed like a dowager empress in the old house. We would drive for hours to reach her in the very North of Michigan and there we would find her waiting in her mansion amongst the old trees. I loved the summers I spent up there with her in her house with all of my family around me. They are some of my fondest childhood memories. During these visits, I would go up and visit my grandmother in her room and she would always give me candy and tell me stories. She talked about her days as a teacher or her days as an actress. We shared our passion for ghost stories and history. While I was up there, I went through her large library of ghost stories and horror stories. She nurtured a love for all things haunted and old and beautiful in me, which I still have today.
Even in her last days, when I visited her in Harbor Chase Assisted Living or in the nursing home, she would always share stories with me. On one of my last visits to see her, she talked about her childhood in Detroit when Detroit was beautiful and grand. She told me about how she convinced her mother to let her take the street car to the old opera house to see shows. Her mother let her go only if she was with her older sister, Miriam. Together they would ride the street car as often as my Auntie Mimmie would take her and my grandmother fell in love with the theater. It is not surprising that she loved to act and that performing was one of her great passions in life. To me, she always seemed like she was on stage. I will miss her.