About five years ago, I sat in my mom’s cubicle at the Arcadia office of the Fish and Wildlife Service and wrote this down in a leather bound journal:
She’s not the average grandma. As I approach my forties, she’s still alive and kicking, although not as high as she used to. When I was little we would make jam and cookies. She’d curl my stubbornly straight hair with steam curlers, and we eat cheese and crackers and drink Constant Comment tea. Now hot water has turned to wine, and we have adult conversations over glasses of chilled Pinot Grigio. She tells me about her high school days in the 1940s. She shows me a photo of her in her knee-length song leader skirt, one knee raised, and both hands gripping enormous crepe paper pom poms. The picture perfect All American girl.
She was a real stunner then, and was still as glamorous as a movie star well into her 50s and 60s. More pictures reveal her older, married, pregnant, her head piled high with Betty Grable curls. When I ooh and ahh over how beautiful she looked in a bathing suit, she chuckles with embarrassment or maybe sadness, that she no longer has the figure of a pin-up girl.
She hates being old. Not that anyone actually loves it, but she really, really hates it. She hates having to wear glasses after a lifetime of 20-20 vision. She can no longer wear high heels due to her feet being damaged from years of wearing too-tight shoes. She rejects computers and hates sending emails, but she’s nevertheless a modern woman. She lives a quiet life now, a lonely life. Though she still drives herself around in her Honda CRV, uses her cell phone, and reads books on an Amazon Kindle.
During one of our last shopping trips together, she couldn’t get her handbag open. The zipper was hopelessly stuck and neither of our best efforts could budge it. So she asked the cashier for a pair of scissors and proceeded to cut open her purse to retrieve her wallet. We laughed and laughed as she performed this emergency wallet C-section. The cashier looked at us like we were nuts.
“I’m not the average grandmother.” She said.
“Grandma, you are hardcore.”