I spent the last day in a half staying with my grandma on a mini-vacation. I’ve always loved going to my grandma’s house; it’s like a museum, but one that is warm and fuzzy. Grandma is completely eclectic and I like knowing who I got it from. She never baked cookies with me or taught me to knit, but she would take me boogie boarding and tried (unsuccessfully) to teach me to burp at will. I remember her lathering herself in turtle oil as we’d sit on the beach and I envied her ability to tan. She is more Danish that I am and she gets this amazing tan, when not even my Sicilian side can help me in that area. Grandma loves to have fun and belongs to just about every club within her reach: Optimist, Coronado Garden Club, a number of Bridge clubs, PEO, Golf Club and who knows how many others.
She always reads the last chapter of a book first and can never remember the title of a movie she saw five minutes ago. She is fun and she knows it.
Three years ago my grandfather passed away and believe me, it’s compeltely untrue that “you can’t take it with you,” because a large part of her left when he did. She keeps herself busy but in quiet moments you can see her shoulders sag and her eyes water. “Grandma, what do you miss most about him,” I asked last night over a game of Gin Rummy. “Hmm. Everything,” she replied. I got choked up and had to agree. You can’t pinpoint what it was specifically, it was truly “everything.” ” What was the hardest part about being married to him,” I asked fearing I was going to far. “Never being right. It wasn’t that, but the fact that it didn’t matter if I was right, he gave his opinion and the case was closed.” “Did it drive you nuts?” “Ah, well, I got over it, it didn’t really matter,” she said as if it really didn’t matter. This of course was hard for me to imagine, but somehow I believed her.
“Did you like being a Navy wife? Was it hard when he was gone all the time and you had to keep yourself busy or did you like the freedom?” I was on a role now and not just asking random questions, but I wanted to know how the women I came from felt about life. “I never thought about it. I just did what I had to do.”
I had heard this before, but not from my mother’s generation or anyone since. I had heard it from women who knew how hard life was, simply because it was simply life. “Grandma, no one in my generation thinks that way. We don’t do things for the good of those around us, we do things if they’re good for us.” I said this matter of factly, but with shame. I love my husband, but “doing what I have to do” gets old and then… I think the difference between my grandma’s generation and mine, or more specifically my grandma and me is that there is no … It’s just part of, or a fact of life for her and for me it’s an unnecessary irritation that I can do without. Not to say that there were never moments for grandma when she’d had it, but she didn’t try to escape them, they were expected and even after 62 years of marriage to a man who was always right, she still misses EVERYTHING about him.