For my grandma on her 100th birthday
Yeah, you read that right – 100th!
Holy crap, Grandma, that’s amazing. As are you.
It’s remarkable for anyone to hit 100. But my grandma is remarkable in many ways. For a long time I’m not sure I recognized it – she was just my grandma. I knew she wasn’t a stereotypical grandmother – there was no knitting going on, or wearing frilly aprons in her kitchen. The only apron I ever remember seeing her wear said, “BITCH BITCH BITCH” on it. That’s my grandma.
If you live around here, it’s highly likely you’ve crossed paths with her at some point. She’s been working for Fort Wayne Community Schools as a teacher and administrator and consultant for more than 50 years. She’s been a columnist for The News-Sentinel for decades. She’s been very active in the Jewish community, the arts community, the community community. She was the first woman to do a lot of things. She’s received many impressive accolades along the way.
Of course, she has made some poor decisions over the years. She did go to Ohio State.
But she’s also just my grandma. 🙂
Just my grandma?
Hey, Grandma! Happy birthday!
This seems like a good opportunity to reminisce. Maybe say thank you for some things. Maybe apologize for some things. Like the time when I was, I don’t know, maybe 8-ish, and I was lying on the floor in the den on Old Mill and you were tickling the crap out of me. A lot. I was kind of thrashing around laughing. And I elbowed you in the mouth. Hard. It was absolutely, totally, 100% your fault, and yet I still feel bad. Sorry about that.
Thank you for taking me to my first Broadway show. (Pirates of Penzance – I know you know, that’s for everyone else.) We share a love of theater, and you have continued to help me feed my habit. You paid for my ticket to see Miss Saigon years ago when I lived in Michigan and it was coming to Detroit. And on my last trip to NYC you sent me with some extra money so I could pick up tickets to see a second show. (Kinky Boots, it was incredible, thank you!)
Of course, we also went to the Stratford Festival together for my Bat Mitzvah present, and saw some Shakespeare and some Gilbert & Sullivan, but it’s not the theater that I remember most about that trip. Nope, it’s the paddle boat you rented for Lisa and me to tool around Lake Victoria in. It was an hourly rental, and Lisa and I wanted to make sure you got your money’s worth. We didn’t want to upset you by coming back too soon and wasting it. In the meantime, we had disappeared, and you thought we’d drowned. Oops. Sorry about that, too.
We’ve definitely done some good traveling together. You took me to your favorite city, Florence. Don’t worry, it’s your birthday, I’m not going to tell that story again. But I could mention how you almost sold me to an African man. Or when we saw wee little Sylvester Stallone eating in the same restaurant we were at. Or hahahahahhahah, I forgot about this till right now, how about the lunch where you thought you were ordering something sensible like a salad and it ended up being a gigantic ice cream sundae. HAHAHAHAHAHAH. I’m sitting on my couch laughing by myself right now…I just woke the dog. We both love art, too, and there was a lot of it on that trip. The David, which blew me away with how enormous it is. The Sistine Chapel. The Medici Chapel.
I’m sure this was true when I was younger also, but I’ve become very aware over the last few years of how you’re one of my biggest cheerleaders. You go out of your way to let me know after you’ve talked to someone who has said something nice about me. You post comments to let me know you’ve read each and every blog post, here and on Beth & Wendy, even when my posts are silly. Or you call to discuss if it’s something topical. You save clippings when I’m in the newspaper, and then years later you give them to me. I have one on my desk right now that you gave me a few weeks ago, from about 8 years back. I can’t remember why this little profile was in the paper, but in it I talk about how my parents and my grandmother have been strong role models for me, particularly in the area of community service. Yes, yes you have.
Aww, and as I’m sitting at my desk writing this (up against my deadline, because I’m a procrastinator and your birthday is tomorrow), one of my favorite people just commented on Facebook (in response to Kevin’s great article about you in the News-Sentinel) that I “get my passion for life, the arts, and writing honestly!” I sure do. 🙂 (Do you do this too? Are you deadline motivated?)
I love that you have been a mom to my mother, even after Mom and Dad got divorced. Not every family can navigate that. Thank you for making it so. ♥
Speaking of divorce, after my own, my Christmas traditions changed. I love my new Christmas, going to the movies and dinner with you and Dad on Christmas Eve, and then another movie (this one adding in Kron) on Christmas Day before dinner at Rachel’s. Considering it’s not even our holiday, it’s one of my favorites. 🙂
Any 45-year-old would be fortunate to have a living grandparent still; my other three were all gone by the time I was 19. But I’m extra-lucky to have YOU as my grandmother. When my family was in France visiting Lisa during her semester abroad, I remember seeing kids playing soccer in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and thinking how crazy it was that they could go about their normal lives like that, and not just stand in awe thinking, “Holy cow, that’s the Eiffel Tower.” But now I find myself thinking maybe that’s what I’ve done, taking you for granted as “just my grandma.” Doesn’t everyone have a barrier-breaking, ceiling-shattering, tough-talking, community-shaping, change-making grandmother?
You set the bar so high for the rest of us, in so many ways – including longevity! 🙂 As I strive to live up to the example you’ve set, I’m happy you’re still here to encourage me, and talk things over, and tell me stories.
My favorite experience with you though, my very favorite, is when you get started laughing. You know what I’m talking about. I remember you and Dad and I had lunch after Eula Black’s funeral. I have absolutely no idea what we were talking about – I think it had something to do with pencils, which doesn’t really sound that funny. But it must’ve been, because I remember the three of us cackle-laughing in the middle of…Cosmo’s? Somewhere. Laughing till I can’t breathe, with my grandma. It doesn’t get better than that.
I am sure that as soon as I stop writing, I will remember something else I wanted to say. That’s ok, I’ll just call you. 🙂
Happy birthday, Grandma. You’re wonderful, and I love you, and I’m so glad you’re my grandma.