I love my Grandma.
Grandma Mert is 84 today. I can tell everyone that because Grandma would. She has bragging rights. She is proud of her years and happy to have gotten his far.
At 47 not many people I know can say they have a grandma. I have two and a grandpa as well. It is one of my greatest blessings.
I make it a point to ask them as many questions about the past as often as I can. Really, I have living WWII memories I can access and family history at the other end of my cell phone. I try not to take it for granted.
My grandpa’s mother, who I had in my life until I was in my thirties came across country in a covered wagon. Today we wished Grandma Happy Birthday on Facebook and MySpace. Within minutes of posting it my daughter called me from France to make sure she had a number to call Grandma at before she (daughter) went to sleep, as it was almost midnight there.
I have learned a lot about myself in learning about my Grandmothers. Both are strong independent ladies who had their own lives and businesses when most women did not, but still maintained a happy household for their families and extended families. There were many dinners at Grandparents houses. More at Grandma Mert’s because she was a lot closer. At the time I didn’t realize that it was probably in part because we needed family help to get fed. I just thought grandma needed someone to pawn the “Teriyaki Cutlets” (Otherwise known as LIVER) and the over abundance of what I called “pepper salad” off on.
In the last few years I figured out where I got my strange sense of humor, quiet strength and tendency to take in strays (people and pets) from as well. We lived in a little town that was very white middle class but never was a prejudice word uttered and I know there was a gentleman who was adored by the family who now that I look back I am sure everyone knew was gay. We were respectful of people or we were in danger of a wholloping. Yep. Kids got spanked in our family and we came out just fine.
Both of my parents worked. My brother didn’t come along until I was almost 8 so I spent a fair amount of time at Grandma’s. She had a big yard you could summersault on, a little fish pond that had tadpoles in it, one a BIG one, that I could fish for with a saucepan and a tea strainer as long as everyone was returned to their habitat at the end; and an avocado tree out front that had AVOCADOS (They made the pepper salad tolerable).....
There were Reader’s Digest Condensed books in the spare bedroom and an ancient sewing machine. Plenty to entertain a child. The best was the costume trunk in the attic. Not only did it have a harem girl costume in it…. IT WAS IN THE ATTIC!
Grandma had a dog, two in my lifetime, both beagles and both lived to be well over 100 in dog years. There were cats too. I only remember Flip and Flop. Both gray and I think related, possibly brothers. Grandpa loved birds and later in life they had several. One at a time.
We went hiking and camping. Grandma taught me to be tough. Never admit you need a ride if you broke your ankle on the mountain trail. Tough it out and hike the 7 miles. Grandpa didn’t agree. Neither did Uncle Mike. We collected watercress and I learned the wonder of hot bacon dressing. My grandparents practiced good environmentalism long before it was popular. Then it was called respecting property and doing the right thing.
We treasure family. All the girls got together and made Chess Pies at Christmas. We had a large family and the elders were treasured and cared for physically and financially if needed. There was a divorce and remarriage of Grandma’s parents. I didn’t know until I was in 9 when I met Grandpa Cook, that Grandpa Connahan was not a blood relative. He was loved and treated as a beloved parent.
One of the other great things I learned from my grandparents was a healthy view of sex among loving married adults. (Married to each other). Everyone in our family knew that they had a healthy sex life way into their later years. (Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t SEE it or anything.) We just knew it was part of their love for each other.
This summer Grandma will have been without Grandpa (I can't say alone because she has always been such a good freind to people that she is reaping what she sewed in that department) and after being married since her teens has learned to live single in her little cabin in the desert with the birds and bunnies. She plays Bingo, takes care of the "Old Ladies" that live around her and has a crush on Dr. Phil.
Today she is hanging out with her older sister at her (sister's) cabin in the mountains!