Growing up I had always looked up to my grandmother.
She was the type of woman who would wear her friend’s wedding ring to pretend she was married so she would appear old enough to drink when at a bar.
She was the type of woman to meet her Navy pilot husband when he was accidentally using the women’s restroom while on a date at the bowling alley.
She was the type of woman who would tell her young, wide-eyed granddaughter stories of her own youth and the charming military admirers who would woo her and take her to their elegant balls.
My grandmother passed away in 2002, but I still find beautiful connections with her in every area of my life. So when I was asked to the Naval Academy’s Memorial Ball just one day after arriving in Washington D.C., I was delighted.
Walking into the venue, I was stunned. Tables draped in white cloth decorated with vases of water holding luminous floating votives outlined the room. Dozens of twinkling lights arched at least 50-feet overhead, while spotlights illuminated the sleek dance floor. If the setup wasn’t enough, the hundreds of good-looking fellows dressed in their Navy blues, escorting dazzling women in flowing floor-length dresses were.
It all took my breath away.
And though my date was definitely not my "Mr. Right", I couldn’t stop smiling while he was spinning and dipping me out on the dance floor.
It was positively one of those cliched “nights to remember,” one of the ones you make fun of, yet secretly yearn to have.
What was even more special about it, though, was standing out there thinking, 'so this is what it feels like.'
That night helped me picture what it must have been like to live in the sophisticated glamor of my grandmother’s early life. A deeper clarity about the person who I have idolized for so long made her real to me again, even though she has long since left this earth.
I mean, she is the person I look almost exactly alike, the person who my relatives can’t believe I emulate so closely, without me even realizing it at the time. And there I was, her only and beloved granddaughter, experiencing an atmosphere she had once flourished in herself.
It all brings peace to my heart and a sigh to my lips when I think about it. Then a sparkle sneaks into my eye when I think about what adventure I will find next, simply by following my grandmother’s footsteps.