Tootsie Rolls rank number 27 on Vox’s Halloween candy ranking. For me, Tootsie Rolls are number one.
Once a week in elementary school, my class would split into two groups and make the journey downstairs, where each group would have one class period in the library and one in the computer lab.
Everybody was always excited to see the librarian. They’d wave enthusiastically and say, “Hi Mrs. McGee!” “Thank you, Mrs. McGee!” “Have a nice day, Mrs. McGee!” When people said, “It’s nice to see you, Mrs. McGee,” she’d say, “It’s nice to be seen,” and she meant it. She loved to be with people and to talk to people and to brag about her grandchildren.
Mrs. McGee made a great librarian. She also made a great Mom Mom.
Having my Mom Mom as a librarian was a joy because it is nice to be seen; it’s even nicer to see and be seen by people you love.
During the school day my Mom Mom couldn’t show any obvious preference for me over the other kids, even though they all knew she was my grandmom. I was there to learn like everybody else, looking for the book that would be mine for the week.
When I finally made a choice, most likely a musty-smelling “Magic Treehouse” book that I was lucky to get my hands on, I went to the checkout and said my code “585.”
I would happily slide the book across the desk. My Mom Mom would stamp the logout sheet on the inside of the cover and slide it back to me with the addition of a Tootsie Roll.
She didn’t have to say what the Tootsie Roll meant. I knew.
My Mom Mom McGee always carried Tootsie Roll midgees. It sounds like it came straight from a nursery rhyme; It was sweeter than that.
Everywhere she went, she would have a few Tootsie Rolls in her pocket or her purse because what if she saw me? What if she saw my sisters? Being together was grounds for celebration; it was grounds for sharing Tootsie Rolls.
I have a distinct memory of sitting on the picture day chair in my elementary school’s cafeteria and seeing my Mom Mom pass through the room. She walked right up to me, as I was sitting for my photo, and put a Tootsie Roll in my hand. I’m smiling nice and big in that picture; it is indeed nice to be seen.
When I went over to my Mom Mom’s house, I always looked forward to snagging an orange popsicle from the freezer or eating Milano cookies, which were her favorite. I loved climbing on the pink flower tree on the side of the house and trying to beat my sister to the reclining chair in the sitting room before we watched “Dancing with the Stars.”
But the thing that reminds me the most of my Mom Mom is Tootsie Rolls. At her house we had to do some impressive climbing to get to the Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops, which were hidden on top of the fridge, but that made them all the more enjoyable.
My Mom Mom came over to my house a lot, often unannounced, which was bothersome at the time. She’d pull down the driveway in her maroon Honda, rosary beads swinging from the mirror and Post-It note reminders on the dashboard. She often parked askew across the grass. Then she’d walk in the kitchen door without knocking and in a shaky, old woman voice yell “Hello! Maureen?” Maureen is my mom. My Mom Mom would always bring random items and decorations with her to our house. “I found these in the garage,” she’d say to my mom, “I thought that you could use them.” We most likely did not want the decorations or old sweatshirts or gifts that we gave her for Christmas that she thought we might enjoy more than her. But on her way out, there were the Tootsie Rolls being handed around the room and all of us wanted one of those.
She came to my sports games, my church readings, she even came to my handbell concerts. She was at almost every event that my sisters and I participated in.
Every time we said goodbye, no matter the meeting spot, she would dig around her black Coach bag for Tootsie Rolls to give us.
I don’t know many people that point to Tootsie Rolls as their favorite candy. I’m not sure they would take the top spot on my list either, that is if they didn’t taste so much like love.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.