I have always enjoyed my grandma, she really is a kick. She never backs down from anything and is a walking contradiction, full of idiosyncrasies and fun. She is obsessed with her weight – this is truly bizarre since she will be 88 this year. She is always trying to get me to weigh myself – something I NEVER do. She likes to know how many pounds difference we are and then gloat that she is much taller. I have pictures of my grandma in a two-piece bathing suit a month after she gave birth to her second son; she is amazing. She will go days without eating very much and then tonight, she polished off a burger built for a truck driver and washed it down with a vanilla shake.
Today she commented on how crazy my hair is. I told her, “Grandma, I get lots of compliments on it.” She replied, without hesitation, “Mandy, they only compliment you because they don’t know what to say.” And then dropped it as though there was no point hearing any other option. I thought is was hilarious. I have been through enough in life to know when to laugh. So my 88-year-old grandma hates my spiky hair – it would be just plain weird if she didn’t!
I used to bring my friends down to my grandmother’s for visits – they all loved it, she lives in the Beverly Hills of San Diego, except this town has class. Today I brought my kids. We spent time this afternoon looking through my grandmother’s cedar chests, bulging with artifacts that no longer mean much of anything to her: original dresses from the 1920’s, my father’s Boy Scout uniforms and her wedding dress ( a grey velvet suit). I have never been able to fit into that damn dress. Let me also add that she has a chest full of letter to and from her mother; from the day she married until her mother’s death, she wrote her mom every day – every day. Mary, my daughter had a ball dressing up in everything from frilly frocks to fur hats. My son dressed in his grandpa’s uniforms. My grandmother even kept the top she wore on the night she met my grandfather: February 13, 1943, San Fransisco.
I’m not a sentimental person – at least not in the right ways. I used to be. I once had a shoebox full of things from my first boyfriend: the straw from the first 7/11 Icee he bought me, down to a picture of the wedding dress I was going to wear to our wedding. One day I threw it out, not because I wanted to, but because I married someone else. I hold on to memories, but not for the right reasons; they plague me and remind me of what might have been and what could be if everything went according to my delusions.
I don’t keep things anymore. I think it’s because I want a fresh start: new memories. My grandma doesn’t want her things anymore. I asked her today what she wishes me to do with everything when she’s gone, “Oh Mandy. It doesn’t matter, whatever you want.” She has no hold on life now that my grandfather died. She hasn’t given up, she just doesn’t hold on. She has 62 years of memoires that mean more to her that cedar chests full of treasures.