||[Apr. 27th, 2012|04:15 pm]
I visited my grandmother on Sunday. She's doing well, considering. Which is to say, she's almost 97. She's on oxygen, so you have to fill up a portable oxygen tank if she's gonna leave the house. She gets nosebleeds a lot, and needs a walker, and doesn't have much energy, and blanks on words a lot, and can't hear very well. But she's still mentally pretty sharp, and will talk your ear off, and still lives by herself in her own home, and reads all the time, and gets along just fine.|
We were going to go to The Egg and I for dinner, but we couldn't find it. Like most people who don't drive, she doesn't pay much attention to directions anymore. (I certainly never did before I was 16.) And once we failed to find it on the first pass, we were off in the chunk of Arvada where I always get lost because nothing goes through the way you think it should because of the railroad tracks, and Ralston Road always screws me up, and it's all just doom. So basically, we took a long scenic drive and ended up having dinner at Panda Express instead. Which was just fine. (I like Panda Express because you can get mixed veggies for your side dish and end up with a fairly healthy and low-carb dinner for cheap.)
And afterwards I got to hear lots of stories about family history that were much more dramatic than I think of that side of the family being. Like, Great-aunt V's daughter is not actually her daughter, but her cousin's daughter, because the cousin got herself pregnant in some kind of tremendously vague interaction with a renter in her parents' home one summer, and was on the bus down to Colorado Springs to get an abortion when she changed her mind, and great-aunt V raised the daughter instead because she and her husband couldn't have kids because when he was younger he got into a bar fight with a guy with a switchblade and he smacked the guy with a chair and the guy died so he did a stint in the penitentiary for manslaughter and while he was in there they sterilized him.
Luckily it's sometimes hard to get a word in edgewise when Grandma gets going, because my response was pretty much just O_O.
Also there was a whole drama storm around my grandfather's mother's house, which in her waning years she reverse-mortgaged to my grandfather in exchange for him supporting her financially, after having refused an identical setup with all three of her sons, such that when she died his brothers didn't involve him in the funeral arrangements at all and were only speaking to him enough to say "so, I guess we need $10k to cover the rest of the value of the house, then" and he was all "Fine." and wrote them a check then and there and there was just a leetle bit of bad blood floating around for a while over it all, and she wanted me to know the true story just in case anyone ever claimed that my grandfather had screwed his brothers out of their inheritance.
She also gave me a blank book to journal in, because she thought my Dad's journals were such a treasure after he died, and I didn't try to explain LiveJournal to her, but I did resolve to post a bit more often.
Wow. What a story!
That certainly trumps the one I like to trot out, that my grandparents got secretly married a month before their wedding, so that my grandmother's folks couldn't come mess it up. They did disown her, though.
Have you recorded any of Grandma's stories?
I envy you, because on both sides of my family, everything is a big, stinkin' secret. My grandmother may (or may not) have been illegitimate, and if she is, I'm the second cousin of a friend of mine, but no one can tell me. And then on the other side, there are a bunch of people in Colorado Springs who have the same last name I do because my great grandfather apparently blew through the midwest in the 20s randomly impregnating women....
What I wouldn't do for a mouthy relative!
Wow. It's such a fascinating look into those facets of family history that are interesting, and so often get lost. It's one thing to know that things like sterilization were used, quite another to have it hit you right between your eyes.
My mother's side of the family is the one with a lot of "informal adoptions." In fact, my mother was one, because my grandfather died in WWII and my grandmother was left with three kids and no support (widows & orphans didn't get much) so her sister-in-law said, "Ill take the baby."
The open secret about the business is why my Nana got to keep my mom. See, when my grandmother was pregnant with my mom, she was going to go to Mexico to get an abortion (which was legal there.) Her sister-in-law (my Nana) was Catholic and thought this was a bad idea, so she told my grandmother that if she followed through, she'd tell her mother. So when my grandmother wanted my mom back several years later, my Nana had a bit of blackmail in her favor...
This is how I ended up with three grandmothers and only one functional (step-)grandfather. (Nana got divorced and I never met my Djadja.)
(Both of them were in Honolulu when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Fascinating diary reading.)
I'm in favor of you posting more often. And I'd vote for Grandma getting an LJ account, too.
Reminds me a lot of Gideon's grandmother from the little bit of time I got to know her before she passed away.
If you try to take her to the Egg and I in Arvada again... it's across the street (north) from my apartment.