Someone's idea of a perfect grandmother

My grandmother was a great cook and many of the things I make (except organ meats - disgusting!) I got from her. Cooking and wearing dresses were the only traditional things she did. When not entertaining her kids (my dad was one of four boys and one girl) and their families, she could be found smoking like a chimney, drinking beer, and watching hockey games.  I adored her.

Several lifetimes ago when I was preparing to get married she came to stay with my family. Our household had a strict no smoking rule but it got bent for Gramma and she set herself up by the kitchen window. It was cracked open an inch and she blew the smoke out the window with long steady blow out the side of her mouth. Thus it was that each day passed.

My second youngest sister was in my bridal party. She's was a delightful sister then as she is now. At the time she was ten and all full of rainbows, happiness and hugs. None of the rest of us were like that so she was 'special' and we teased her about being adopted but she didn't care. Naturally my sister had a snugly vision of grandmothers. They knitted and sat you on their knees and loved you unconditionally and baked cookies and uttered words of wisdom. Because we had moved across the country, she didn't have the opportunity to get to know Gramma the way I had as the eldest, and she was desperate for some kind of common ground to connect with her.  

As a gift for being in the bridal party I gave her a  collector type of Teddy Bear. She thought it would be the best thing in the world to get her grandmother to name the bear for her. So she braved the cigarette smoke, waited patiently for Gramma to notice her and when Gramma eyed her, she made her request. My sister was looking for something romantic, beautiful, profound, eternal and quintessentially grandmotherly.  

Gramma inhaled deeply because she knew what had been demanded of her and knew she was completely unqualified to step up with the name but didn't want to disappoint. Inhaling deeply bought her some time.  My sister waited. Gramma blew a long stream of smoke out the side of her mouth and when it was gone she said with her distinctive, raspy, Zelma voice: "Call him....Zach". Then she nodded once, as she was inclined to do.

It was quintessential Gramma but not what a ten year old was expecting. My sister deflated and then a look of resignation crossed her face as she accepted that she would be owning a bear named Zach for the rest of her life.

When I was visiting my family recently my sister recounted this story complete with the raspy Gramma voice to the delight of everyone. She has come to love the moment as time has gone by and I think Gramma would be flattered to know how well she can imitate her complete with the 'cigarette smoke' blowing out of the side of her mouth and the nod.


Angie said...

I love Gramma stories! It never matters what the Gramma was like, 99% of the time, the grandchild loves her with all of their heart and that's precious :)

I had my sweet nugget today and if I told her "I love you" once, I told her at least twenty times. I suppose I'll just keep repeating myself until she gets tired of hearing

Frimmy said...

I loved my Gramma so much. She died when I was 23 and I couldn't go to her funeral because it was half a country away and I had pneumonia.

Gramma's get a free pass unless they are total screw-ups like Ursula.

I can't imagine you being anything but the best Gramma in the world and Chloe is a fortunate girl to have you and so are her parents.

A-Gran said...

Oh, I would have LOVED your grandma. Smoking, drinking, and carrying on? Yes, please!!! What were her thoughts on kids breaking your heart, I wonder?

Frimmy said...

Her kids loved her and they took care of her until she died. So did her daughters in law which I think is both a commentary on old values and how she was respected and loved.

My dad lost a brother in a car accident when I was very young. It's one of two times I'm aware that he has cried in his entire life. I believe that was the only heartbreak Gramma experienced with regard to her kids.

She was the eldest of the family and when her mother died very young, Gramma had to quit school and run the farm with her dad. She was a brilliant person. Probably a genius. She resented having to leave school and if anything broke her heart it was that.

A-Gran said...

Wow. I'm sitting here thinking what it would have been like to have been smart and to have everything against you... Needing to work on the farm AND being fairly expendable due to her gender. It would have been so much kinder had she been of average intelligence.


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