If you have been following this series you will know that it is a dive into my family history, concentrating on the role of my deceased Grandmother who lived to almost 105 years old. If you would like to catch up you can here, here, here, here, and here.
Through my early teens, I didn’t have 2 things. Friends, and the trust of my parents. So, without a friend’s house to go to, and to spare me the indignity of a babysitter at 13, I continued to hang out at my Grandmother’s house on Friday night and Saturday morning. Come to think of it, my dignity still being a small factor, I really didn’t have a sitter because I tossed a rubber snake onto the lap of a sitter at age 12, effectively scaring the shit out of her, so sitters were no longer an option.
Grandma was glad to have me. The breakfast would continue to be the main event, but the rest of our ritual changed a bit, I would help her around the house, do housework or painting with Grandpa or just hang out and read a book. I enjoyed it. At age 13 Grandpa taught me how to use a lawnmower and I would cut his grass. At his suggestion, I began to solicit neighbors to do theirs as well, my neighborhood as well as theirs. As these things happen, I started to get busy cutting lawns and spent less time with Grandma.
At 15 I got a job at a local supermarket. Deciding that if I don’t come to her, my Grandmother would come to me. She did all of her food shopping on Saturday morning and I made sure that I made time to talk to her. She would stroll in, very upright and proper, dressed as well as she would for church. My friends and co-workers thought she was wonderful, and she soon became royalty. My co-workers bent over backward to see that Marion got whatever she needed. One of them once asked of her, “Marion, you’re retired. You could shop any day of the week why do you put up with the crowds on Saturday.”
“Because,” she said, “Billy isn’t here on a Tuesday morning now is he?”
‘Nuff said. I hadn’t actually realized that was why until she said it. But that’s Marion. A creature of habit and everything is done for a reason.
In 1983 my Grandparents celebrated their 50th Wedding anniversary at a Country Club in town. We managed to surprise them. Over 200 guests came to see Marion gracefully drag her clumsy but smiling husband across the dance floor. She was majestic, proud and as it occurred to me then, virtually ageless. When my turn came, it was my honor to dance with her. And I don’t dance with anyone.
Sadly, as life got busier for me I saw my Grandparents less and less. It wasn’t just on Holidays, but it was nothing like before. Life happens. But I always made it a point to call them and make sure they were ok. They always were.
In 2002, my beloved Grandfather passed away. He contracted pneumonia, which in turn “activated” dormant pockets of Asbestos in his lungs that he contracted while working on warships in the Navy. He was 92. He died, in their marital bed, holding my Grandmother’s hand. She was rightfully devastated. But not defeated. Many speculated that she, like many spouses of elderly, would go soon after. My mother, father and I all said No Way to that, she’s got a lot of years left in her.
We had no idea how right we would prove to be.
To be continued…