One of the most intriguing aspects of fashion is its ability to transport people, whether it is to another era or another mindset. What we put on each morning can define how we feel about ourselves that day and how we want to interact with the world. Fashion allows us to mold ourselves, put on a costume, and live a fantasy. This blog is primarily about using styles and trends of the past to transport ourselves today.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In memory of my Beautiful Grandmother-"Eres La Flora de mi Vida"

November 26, 1932-June 8, 2011

"Girl with a Diamond Necklace"
My Grandmother, Micaela Morales at age 19
She was also called Mary, Mickey, and as the grandchildren and eventually the rest of the family called her, Mema

I love my Mema very much, and while the event of her passing is very personal to me and my family, she was a beautiful person and I want to share the glory of her life to honor and remember her. This is not a blog about her death, but a tribute to her as a stylish, beautiful, and important figure in my life.

"Perfectly Forties"
My Mema at 12 yrs old

Briefly about my Grandma:
Micaela was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. There she met my grandfather  Roger Lanham, marrying him at 17 years old. She soon became a mother of six children, moved to Los Angeles, and became a Grandmother of eight. In her 40's, she fell ill from a flu shot and as a result, lost most of her ability to use her legs and was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. As a child, I never understood her illness, it was- "my grandma is in a wheelchair," although I do remember her being able to walk short distances with a cane. After becoming sick, her life was peppered with doctor's appointments and her health began to slowly decline due to other health complications. This year, in 2011, She decided to let go of life and passed very peacefully with my mother and Aunt Jude by her side in the hospital. In a way, she chose the right time to leave this world, leaving behind a body that could not sustain itself anymore. As much as I will miss her, I am glad she is at peace,  her spirit is free, and she is no longer suffering from health limitations.

Below are some stylish pictures of my Grandma:

I love her look, so elegant and "above it all"
My Mema's waist was so small!
She was a very petite woman, about 5' 3"

"What a crazy model'

My grandma with her first daughter, Judy Helen

When I was young, I remember asking my Mema about her life.  However accurate, this is what she told me...
Her parents were a very traditional Mexican family and very strict. There were twelve children in her family, although two died at a very young age, leaving my grandma as one of ten children. She said that when she met my Grandpa, being only about 16, she "had hairy armpits and didn't know how to shave her legs." He on the other hand had been married before and 11 yrs her senior. From what she told me, their marriage was based on a bet. My Grandma was working as a waitress in El Paso and my Grandpa and his friend, who had both been in the air force at the time, came in to the restaurant and had a bite. The story goes, that he made a bet with his friend that he could, I guess the best word is, "land" my Grandma. She agreed to marry him because she wanted to leave home and have a different life. Her parents disowned her at first for marrying a man that was not Catholic, nor Mexican. They later accepted the marriage, allowing him to wait outside or sit on the sidelines when my grandma and their children visited. In 1951 Mema had her first daughter, Judy Helen when she was 19 years old, her second daughter, my mother, Dottie Jean was born in 1953, her third Marilyn in 1954, my Uncle Lyn, the first and only son in 1958, and Nancy in 1963. In 1966 my Grandpa and Grandma moved their family to Los Angles and had their sixth child, my Aunt Tracie in 1968.

My Grandma posing with her first daughter, Judy Helen

My Grandma in a gorgeous fitted taffeta dress with her niece posing on the lawn

My Grandma posing



Family 1959
(from left) My Grandma holding a baby (not sure who, maybe my uncle), her sister Loy with her arms around (from left) my mother, Dottie Jean,  Bunnie, and my Aunt Marilyn)

1953 with Judy Helen

My Grandma with my Grandpa Roger Lanham, holding my Uncle Lyn
Christmas 1989
From left: My father holding my newborn brother, My grandpa, My mom, Seated is my Mema holding me, looking upset at age 3

My most vivid memories of my Mema are of her cooking, crocheting, making jokes, and watching tv with her. When I was a kid I used to love watching "The Price is Right" with her...I loved going to her house because she let me eat all the things my mother never let me, like bacon and balogna sandwiches. I would help her pick color combinations for the afghans she crocheted, went through her jewelry and put her fancy necklaces on. My grandma loved dogs, especially daschunds. As long as I can remember she always had one, and they were all named Wolfgang. I don't remember who bought her this, but someone bought her a Wolfgang dog made of stone, his name became Stoney, he was a great doorstop. She had a case of Lenox figurines, I remember loving to look at every one and say "that's me and that's Jonzie." (my cousin) Taking her out or having her over was always such an event, not only because of her wheelchair and it's special accommodations, but I loved spending time with her outside of her home. She loved to people watch and always had something funny to say. She appreciated the little things. I loved showing her my bedroom and how it changed each time she came over. Every year, for her birthday or Christmas, I would give her a pair of Salt and Pepper shakers. I don't know how that tradition came about, but everywhere I travelled I would bring her back a pair- Sparrows from New York, Kissing puppies from Paris, Fishes from Cape Cod. I always tried to find obscure shakers, once finding a set of alligators and kangaroos. It was a tradition that tied me to her, no matter where I went. The final gift I gave her however, was not a salt and pepper set, but a small glass bunny dish with a tiny little note I made to fit inside for Easter. 

My Grandparents at my parent's wedding

I love this picture because of her huge smile, she looks truly happy.

A word of wisdom to those with critically ill family members: Love them while they are here.
Speaking from experience, eminent death from serious illnesses are hard to face. Not only does it become difficult to have a relationship with the person that is ill, but the idea that they "could go at any moment" is similar to the principles of "The Boy who Cried Wolf." You never know......
With that said, take the time, however painful, visually and emotionally, to be with that person. Be there to hold their hand, to say Good Morning and Good Night, because one day you won't be able to.

In memory of my Beautiful Grandmother, Eres La Flora de mi Vida,
You are the flower of my heart.


  1. Such a wonderful tribute to a beautiful woman. I'll always remember her attending every one of our shows at the Music Hall. She was always my biggest fan, even when I was terrible. I'll miss her so.

  2. Oh Yaya, that was soo beautiful. Had to use the last of the Klenex. I miss her everyday

  3. Meme would be so proud. I think it is beautiful. I love the pictures. I have never seen them & it was so cool to see my Mom as a young girl, a teenager & then Mom... Thank you for taking the time & the heart to create your Beautiful Mema.

    xoxoxo Thank you Yaya.

    Love Auntie T.

  4. Beautiful post Amelia. My grandparents went too soon for me to really remember them, so my uncle's passing has been hard, as I was close to him. You are so very lucky that you got to enjoy memories and many years with your grandma. Your post has got me thinking about how I can talk about and honor my uncle and my sick aunt.

    Your grandmother was beautiful and seemed so full of humor and passion in the fashion photos she took.

  5. Amelia,
    This is the most beautiful tribute I have ever read. Any Grandmother would be moved to tears as I am at your very touching remembrances of her. It's not hard to see that you were tied to her in so many ways - the flair for fashion, the lovely smile and the posing of someone who knew she was special - to her family, to her husband and especially to her very special Grand-Daughter. She will live on in you! Love, Auntie Gail