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    BWS Stories - NABBW and GRAND Magazine Contests Winners

    NABBW and GRAND Magazine Contests Winners - Riding with Grandma - Runner Up!

    Karen Ferrick-Roman lives in Beaver Falls, PA, with her husband and two teenage sons. A former newspaper reporter, she now works in public relations for a Pittsburgh university. Through the years, she’s built up the self-confidence to jump from a small plane like the one that her grandmother wanted to fly.

    Riding with Grandma - Runner Up!

    In the sixth-grade, I was slightly awkward, slightly self-conscious, and slightly tongue-tied. Being with my grandmother changed everything.

    She always knew the fun spots, finding flat bread and lamb at the Syrian picnic, the pinkest cotton candy at the carnival, and the smoothest the ice cream on the way to Crooked Creek Lake. Always, we arrived in style, her white 1963 convertible gleaming and the black top down. Her pink flowered chiffon scarf billowed in the breeze; her teeth struck the smile that illuminated my world. My hair flew into my face and tangled with my ice cream cone, which maddeningly melted over me and the black leather seats. Grandma never yelled about sticky messes.

    She was only 5-foot-4, but to me was larger than life. She did everything with style, from confidently hitting softballs to us kids in the backyard, to dressing in nipped-waist dresses and heels. Always, she smelled of the fresh almond scent of Jergens lotion. The waves of her black hair framed her doe-like eyes, which rounded with surprise at my mother’s displeasure when she would arrive unannounced on Sunday nights, just in time for the Cartwrights to ride the range in TV-land’s Bonanza—and to push back our bedtime for another hour. Her grocery bag of corn curls, cherry Twizzlers, and Tahitian Treat pop was quickly emptied. I’d clamber next to her in the brown recliner, comfortably breathing in her aura until the show ended. Just being with her stoked my confidence. She was a working woman before her time, driving from our hole-in-the-wall western Pennsylvania town to Myrtle Beach to have the ocean breeze fluff her hair. I imagined the top down and her scarf flying for hours at a time.

    The next year we visited her house, gathering with relatives after her funeral. I found curious maps on the living room coffee table; one of her last adventures had been flying lessons. Even now, I imagine her at the controls, looking down on the cars, the farms, the houses. She would ride the wind, her smile as broad as the sun.

    Even though she never got her pilot’s license, she taught her grandchildren how to fly.
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