I am so grateful for my grandma.
When I was two, my grandparents moved away from our small town. I didn’t understand what was happening and I bawled. When I finally saw my grandma again, I was overjoyed: “But Grandma! Why did you leave me?!” I have been loathe to see her leave me ever since. Now, she’s not the cookie-baking type of Grandma. She’s a pastor’s wife with a kind word at the ready, but she’d sooner go to a restaurant than bake and cook. She has always had enviable alabaster skin; even now it is virtually wrinkle-free. I wasn’t blessed with this complexion.**My daughter, happily, looks very much like my grandma.
Since my grandpa has died, my grandma has done quite well fending for herself and we have grown ever closer. Those first few weeks (okay, maybe years) were rough–he died suddenly and she had to learn to navigate Social Security, retirement, bank accounts, mortgage accounts, etc. He had been in charge of everything. My mom and I sat at the computer with her and tried to sort through all the passwords and user names. Because Grandpa had linked everything easily on the desktop, some things were permanently logged in. If Grandma gets logged out, all is lost.
We regularly try to bring Grandma up to speed with today’s technology, but it is completely overwhelming. I used to teach Adult Computer Classes at the library so I understand–there’s so much jargon, so much we take for granted. In any case, she’s adorably endearing as I try to talk her through things.
We sent Grandma a cell phone to use for emergencies–the kind where you load the minutes. I called to help her get it set up.
“Okay, let’s get it opened up so you can take it with you on your trip.”
“I just woke up, gee. Can we do this later?”
“Grandma! Come on! Let’s just get it plugged in at least, so it can charge.”
I imagined her slowly opening the cell phone box and peering at the alien contents inside.
“Oh, there’s a lot of stuff in here.”
“Just ignore it, we just need to find the plug.”
“What does it look like?”
“Like a normal plugger-in part.”
“Everything’s wrapped in plastic. And there are a lot of wires.”
“I’m going to take it to Wal-Mart and let them sort it out.”
True to form, I’m not sure she ever did take that phone to Wal-Mart.
But my grandma recently admitted to me that her refrigerator (which is not a modern technological marvel anymore…well, not the fridges I have…) had been producing a burning smell for years.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“We had to go get a new fridge because my old one was burning the floor. When they moved it there were scorch marks on the linoleum!”
“A few years ago I smelled burning, but it went away, so….I guess that’s what it was.”
“Grandma! That’s not safe! Why didn’t you figure out what it was!?”
“I told you, the smell went away. So…?”
I love having her on Facebook because I can share things with her instantly. Unfortunately, Facebook is a beast in and of itself. I posted an article about the glut of selfies on the Internet and my Grandma innocently asked underneath: “What is youporn?” I realized I don’t know what YouPorn is! But I can guess.
She mentioned to me that she wasn’t reading as much; basically because it was harder on the eyes and she never got around to it. “Solution!” I thought. “Audiobooks!” Actually, what I thought initially was, “An MP3 Player! Online audiobooks! Oh, that will never work.” So, I sent her an audiobook. She thought it was a movie. When I tried to get her to pop it in the CD Player (that she has had for fifteen years, so it’s no ‘newfangled contraption’), she politely told me she needed to finish her coffee and her morning Rummikub game.
I try to talk to her often, because I just wish I could see her every day…rub her shoulder as she reads her morning paper, talk to her over dinner. In the spirit of togetherness, we took a trip to the UK with my mom and it was precious. I cuddled with her in our small motel room. I walked with her on the streets of Motherwell, Scotland where her own mother was from. Grandma is coming this year for Thanksgiving; my task is simple–to ensure that my own children love and adore her as much as I do. It shouldn’t be hard–cuddles are infectious.
She broke my heart recently. After listening to me gather gift ideas for her, she said: “You gotta stop paying attention to me.”
Well. Grandma, I can’t just stop paying attention to you or worrying about you or wanting good things for you. There’s a reason that I always slip up and call you ‘Mom’. It’s because I love you to pieces. I can’t stop paying attention to you, anymore than I can stop breathing. Mwah.
*I assumed my grandmother loved hard candy because she was never without cough drops or mints. There was a brief period in my childhood when I thought she always had a cold. Turns out she doesn’t like hard candy, she’s just very concerned with not having stinky breath.
**Curse you, Genetics!