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Author Topic: Elephant Grandparents [rants and rambles allowed and encouraged]
MaydayDesiax
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Okay, I got this idea when I was reading Shan's thread about her grandmother, and I know that AJ's already done one like this, but since I'm trying to kill time before doing what I promised Bernard I would do today (I'll get on it in a minute, dear, I swear!), I decided we could start a thread about our grandmothers and grandfathers.

Now, before I start on my grandparents, I need to give a little bit of background on my family. Both of my parents are from Mississippi, my mother from Jackson, and my father from a little backwater town of Webb, which is about two, three hours away from Jackson. My mother's parents divorced when she was a child, and my grandfather on that side died when I was very young.

My mother's mother (we call her Bubba--it's the most that my oldest cousin could get out when he was little, and it stuck) is crazy, but in a funny kind of way. She is very brilliant, the perfect role model: Her husband left her practically penniless with three young children to raise on a teacher's salary. Realizing that they couldn't live like that forever, she secured a job as a social worker and managed to work her way up to the top of the 'food chain' as the Director of Drug and Alcohol Abuse for the entire state of Mississippi, and she was the first woman on many a regional board.

However, she also has her quirks. One: You are not allowed to use anything, even the phone, before reading, rereading, and taking a test on the instruction manual. She saves all the instruction manuals to everything she's ever owned. I'm only allowed to touch the computer because I'm the unofficial techie of the family. Two: She hates taking medicine. Even Advil or Tylenol. I have personally seen her sit down and say to herself, "Okay, I have a headache. This means I am stressed. What am I stressed about?" Three: She has to be the most paranoid woman I've ever met. When I went to PC last January, she sat me down at Christmas with a picture of the airport and walked me though where I would be arriving from and such so I wouldn't get lost.

My grandfather, Papaw--God love him--is getting incredibly sick. The man has lung cancer, I know it. He's been put on a breathing machine to help him breathe (it's the one where you put the liquid in it and it heats it up to a smoke), and I swear he takes turns with the machine and a cigarette. His spine's beginning to curve, so he's shorter than I am now. He also isn't very bright: During WWII, all his older brothers and sisters ran off and joined the war, and he had to drop out of the third grade to help out on the farm. His time's short, this may seriously be his last Christmas.

My other grandmother, MeMaw, however swears up and down that this IS her last Christmas. She's been saying it since I was two and my little brother was one. She's a diabetic, and she actually drinks the syrup in the fruit cups. Not the light sugar, either. When something upsets her, she fakes a heart attack or a stroke. She's an absolutely horrid person, and I hate to say it, because she's my grandmother. She tried on more than one occassion to break up my parent's wedding, and almost succeded a few times.

Both of my grandparents are the most prejudice people you will ever meet, and the town they live in is a population of 200, with about 10 people being white.

In fact, I was the most scared to tell MeMaw about Bernard. For those of you who do not know, Bernard and I are dating, we have been for about seven months. He's also Asian, and with my grandparents being so prejudice--and my grandmother being so vindictive, I was afraid that she would be nasty about it. She didn't say much when I showed her the picture, but when I called her a few weeks ago, she asked if I was dating anyone.

"Bernard," was my immediate reply.

"No, I meant someone down there at LSU."

"Uh... No."

How insulting! I'm glad that she thinks so highly of me.

Then she got mad because I was talking to my grandfather, tried to guilt trip me and hung up. [Taunt] Didn't work, sorry.

So, I'm sorry for the rant... Y'all are welcome to post your own, a kind of 'battle of the grandparents'. [Wink]

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katharina
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quote:
One: You are not allowed to use anything, even the phone, before reading, rereading, and taking a test on the instruction manual.
I love her. I do this.
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BannaOj
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Where's Aylar, she's got some doozies too.

AJ

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Ryuko
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For further reference, the machine that makes the liquid into a mist is called a Nebulizer.

<--- Expert on these types of things.... sadly.

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Synesthesia
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I was raised by my grandmother I called Nana. She was from North Carolina and always had interesting stories.
Mostly she kept thinking everyone would take her furniture and replace it with older furniture. Which was frustrating.
Still, she raised me more than my parents did, fed me, gave me piano lessons, came to the city when I won a poetry contest and came to 2 of my graduations and cried through them.
We used to laugh and watch a lot of shows together. I'd sing my silly songs at her and sneak cookies into the shopping cart when we went to the supermarket together. Which she did not mind completely as she'd eat a great deal herself.
She'd make Dunkin Hines cakes and I'd sit on the counter and eat the "banner" as I liked to call it while dust particles floating through the blinds. She taught me how to make a little cake in an eggshell. She'd let me sit in the kitchen and watch her cook.
She was allergic to cats but still fed them anyway and loved animals. She hated Hatians and Jamaicans and would pray for what seemed like hours with me on Friday nights and Saturday nights with tears streaming down her face.
She'd spruce herself up to go to the store or Jamaica avenue. And she always sang His Eye is on the Sparrow.

My grandfather, Nana's husband, talked with a southern accent, drove a truck and listened to country music when I drove with him to toys r us where he bought me Christmas presents. I got a large Mum Ra action figure and an etch R sketch animator I'd use to make an animation of a boy eating a cracker.
Which looked rather cool, i must admit.
He spelled like oil. I think he smoked, but I am not sure. My grandmother told me stories about all the bad things he did I thought were hard to believe.
She'd accuse him of taking her furniture and every day she'd tell the same stories about all the things he did.
<i>every single day</i>
But she'd still call him over to fix things and light the pilot light.

My other grandmother I called Grandmother. She lived in Miss. I stayed there for a while when I was 6 years old and in between chemo therapy and scabs covering my hand. I went to 1st grade there too. And I stayed there for a summer when I was 11.
She was diabetic. I'd watch with fascination as she injected herself with the clear insulin. One time I put eye drops in her eyes for cataracts.
She, like my other grandmother was religious and insisted I get baptized. I got water up my nose. When I said I'd never marry she showed me the bible where it says God made man for woman and woman for man. My other grandmother would say the same thing against gay people.
She'd sometimes get the spirit in church and weep.
She told me storis about picking cotton and about being a teacher's aide and teaching kids to read with feeling.
Her name is Jimmy. I asked my mother why recently.
My other grandfather often smelled like cans because he collected them and smashed them. He liked to watch the A Team and caught me a huge, wet, scary looking cicada becase he knew I liked to collect bugs.
All I did when I was there when I was 11 was mess up the living room and my room and collect bugs in jars.
Especially praying mantises. I'd read the unfairly titled, Boy's Book of Bugs.
It was a wonderful summer, and probably the last summer I'll get to spend with them as Nana is gone, she died a few days before 9/11 and her birthday when I had just started Americorps. My grandfather when before her. A bit before I went to college. Now I just have one last grandmother left and she is rather senile and still thinks I am 11.
I miss my grandparents who were my parents when my real parents couldn't be.

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MaydayDesiax
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Tank 'oo, Ryuko. I have a very bad memory when it comes to medical paraphanalia... Ooohh... Big word.
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Ryuko
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^_^ Welcome.

My Grandparents are well... interesting. There's no time to talk about it now, but maybe later. And why's the thread title Elephant Grandparents??

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MaydayDesiax
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Something said in the thread, AJ (I think) called her grandmother an 'elephant grandmother'. [Dont Know]

[ September 30, 2003, 02:43 PM: Message edited by: MaydayDesiax ]

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Dan_raven
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All my grandparents have passed away. However, I married into a sweet set of them. That's one of the possible perks of marriage, more grandparents.

Tonight I am taking my wife for our weekly outing to her Grandmother's. We will go out to eat. She will try to pay. We will have a good time.

I never knew my grandfathers. My father's father passed away when my father was still in High School. This worried my father much when he reached the age where his father died. He's over that now.

My mother's father passed away when she was a child. Her mother remarried, and he passed away a few years later.

I did get to know both of my grand mothers while I grew up.

One, grandma, was the quintesential grandmother. Her house was old and filled with small breakable knick-knacks. She smelled of cookies and was as sweet as candy.

She raised my mother and her two daughters back when a woman alone was considered a victim, and a working woman, a strange thing. She was a nurse and held other jobs just to keep her family together. One of those jobs was working as a clerk in an asbesto's filled factory. That is most likely the cause of the cancer that took her from us too soon.

My father's mother--Ma Ma--raised us. Both of my parents worked, and she was our babysitter. When we moved from the city to the country, she moved into a trailer next to our house.

She was the strongest woman I've ever known.

I have a hundred stories about her. My favorite, she would go into Shoney's and order lunch. She would go up to the salad bar and fill her plate with a big salad.

She never took notice of the signs that said, "If you get the salad bar you will not be allowed to take home any food."

When her food came, she'd ask them to pack it up, untouched. Then she'd take the container up to the Salad Bar, and add more.

Several times I'd see managers walk forward to tell her to stop, and she'd stare at them. They'd back down or offer to help carry her bag.

another time we went to a quaint little restaurant where the had fresh made applebutter in small glass containers at your table. My grandmother was known to take home any condiments on the table. This time I watched as she picked up the entire glass container of apple butter and drop it into her purse.

She had survived the Great Depression by the skin of her teeth. Collecting and getting as much as she could was not a problem, it was a survival instinct.

I may add more later. I'm getting all nicely blue thinking about these two sweet ladies. THanks.

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Shan
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Oh MayDay! What a sweet idea! I'll come back later and actually give you all some quirky and/or good stories about other grandparents, too!

I'm so glad you started this thread! [Kiss]

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MaureenJanay
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My grandparents:

My paternal grandfather died when my dad was young. Dad's mom (who is and was a horrible drug addict) "took care" of the kids until my dad left home to be a roadie. This meant sleeping a lot. She is now in a home because the drugs have made her lose her mind. She gets angry a lot. I've seen her once since I was four, about seven years ago. She always has lipstick on her teeth. She doesn't remember me. I call her Na-na. (Like banana.)

My mom's parents are more interesting. My granpa divorced my gramma about thirty years ago. He left her for a woman he'd been seeing since they got married. The "other woman's" name was Roberta. He was married to her for a while, divorced her, married a woman named Marilyn (who was literally evil), divorced HER not long after so that he could marry (SURPRISE) Roberta again. He's kinda scummy. He lives for his horses and used to be a federal agent, where he posed as a poacher and had to kill endangered animals in order to befriend and incriminate the real poachers. He has pictures proudly displayed of himself with a dead polar bear, among others. [Frown] He likes to drive people around and knows every piece of flora and fauna in Arizona and the Sonoran desert, and probably every other part of North America. He considers himself to be Mother Nature's tour guide. He is incredibly boring.

My gramma is cool. She lives in New Mexico (which she hates) and her daughter and ungrateful grandkids live with her (which she also hates). She is pretty poor and can't afford her arthritis medicine, so she can't visit anyone because cars and planes are too cramped for her, and trains are too expensive. [Frown] She makes horrible food like french toast with pepper in it. She picks mold off of bread and then eats it. She likes plain yogurt. She is very country. Visiting her is like stepping into the 1800's. When she used to visit, she would put away dishes and we would never see them again. I'm her favorite grandkid. She said I'm the only one who would never disrespect her. (It makes me angry at my cousins. [Mad] ) I love her alone of all my grandparents. I can't wait to see her again. I love her very much, even though our personalities are opposite and we argue a lot. I've learned to just be quiet, so that when it's over she'll never be able to look back and see that I said something hurtful. Basically it means that I get rung out, but she's always embarrassed and apologizes, even if it's days later. I love Gramma!

edit: she eats the bread, not the mold.

[ September 30, 2003, 07:33 PM: Message edited by: MaureenJanay ]

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Mrs.M
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My paternal grandparents died long before I was born (my father is much, much older than my mother). Apparently, my grandfather disowned my father because he became a cardiologist instead of an engineer. My grandmother was an active member of the DAR and a rabid anti-Semite. I wonder how she would have felt about having a Jewish granddaughter. [Smile]

My maternal grandfather died on my fifth birthday. I adored him. He was very, very quiet and only smiled when he was around me. He used to take me to get bread in the French bakery and would always get me a cookie. To this day, the smell of pipe tobacco brings tears to my eyes.

My maternal grandmother is going to be 89 this month. Like all the women in my family, she is compulsively neat and clean. She was very ahead of her time - she worked beside my grandfather in the family business and she taught herself to drive and then taught my grandfather.

Granny (formerly Meemaw) is very musical. She can play the piano, organ, harp, and harmonica and can reproduce any song she has ever heard on any of them. She used to call us on our birthdays at 6:00am and play Happy Birthday on the harmonica. She wouldn't say hello, you'd pick up the phone and she'd lay it on you. My Freshman roommate answered the phone on my 19th birthday and got an unpleasant surprise.

My grandmother lives in a dark and dangerous world. There are "crazies" everywhere, especially in New York City, where I lived for 5.5 years. The important thing is to "look all around," which somehow protects you. She's also not so good with names. The first phone conversation between Dr.M and Granny was priceless:

Granny: How tall are you, Alexander (name of my ex-fiance)?
Andrew: I'm 6'5''.
Granny: Really? Oh my goodness. You're really that tall?
Andrew: Yes.
Granny: Well, I have to be going, Albert (Andrew's grandfather's name). Don't forget to look all around when you go out on the street. There are a lot of crazies in that city.
Andrew (after a pause): Um, okay.

However, the most interesting thing about my grandmother is her inexplicable fear of Gypsies. She truly thinks they're lurking in every corner, waiting to steal our children and put the evil eye on us. The only Gypsy that Granny has ever seen is Gypsy Rose Lee. It's a family legend whose origin will never be discovered.

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Sopwith
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As a child, I was blessed to have been born at a time when I had one great-great grandmother, 5 great grandparents and all four grandparents living.

I never got to know Grandma Hodgins (the great great grandmother) because she was in a rest home up until I was about 10.

My paternal-maternal great grandfather, Papaw Joe, passed away when I was two. He was a bit of a rapscallion and used to scare my Mom to death by giving me sticks of hard candy. He spent his adult life working in a lumber yard and fathering 10 children, of whom my grandmother Carrie was the youngest (by about 12 years, she was, to say the least, a surprise to the family).

My maternal, maternal great grandparents, Gramps and Nonnie lived in a huge Victorian house that had more rooms than I was ever able to count. Gramps was wheelchair-bound for the later part of his life, but had run a drive-in movie theater and was an inveterate tinker. He built his own farm tractor and my Mom still has a cutting board and stool that he made for her when she got married.
Nonnie, was a bon vivant of the highest order. A hairdresser by trade, she also collected antiques and managed to fill their house so completely with them that Gramps spent most of his time in the back bedroom because he simply couldn't navigate his wheelchair through all of the clutter. She could tell the best and dirtiest jokes (something that has always been a tradition in the family, go figure) and there were always pots full of green beans and hamhocks cooking on her stove and four or five cases of Tab nearby. When we would go out to eat, she would always bring her own iced tea or Tab in an open highball glass in her purse. Years later I figured out it didn't have anything to do with her not liking the drinks in the restaurants, but everything to do with living in a dry county and having a taste for good bourbon. She passed away and was buried on Halloween, something she would have gotten a real kick out of.

My paternal paternal great grandparents, Big Papaw and Mamaw (Arthur and Clyde) were something of a direct opposite. They were very religious and quiet folks, but two of the most loveable people in the world. Big Papaw, so called because in his day he stood 6' 3" or so in our short statured family, was raised about as poor as you could be in the early 1900s. He never met his father and worked as a child by driving a wagon filled with vegetables to the markets in the neighboring county. When WWI rolled around, he was drafted and was set to head off to induction, but had one last delivery trip to make. The story he told of that still brings tears to my eyes.
He went to Wilkes County over the old toll road carrying a load of watermelons, struggling to keep the wagon on the road as it headed down the steep slope of the Appalachians. He knew that the next day, he would have to report directly to the train station to be taken off for basic training and shipping out to the horrendous fighting in France. He sold the watermelons and kept one for himself for his dinner that night. Coming back, as it got dark, he pulled over to eat the watermelon and a feeling of terrible loneliness overwhelmed him. He knew that he would be leaving what little family he had (he never met his father) possibly to never return. It got to him so badly that he got back in the wagon and headed back up the road, in hopes of seeing someone, anyone, to spend this last night with. He spied lights on in a house up the road and he headed for it. He got down from the wagon and grabbed the watermelon... perhaps he could share it with the folks if they would just let him spend some time with him. The family, apparently, thought he was a robber and as he knocked on the front door, they ran out a side door and ran for the woods. They yelled for him to get away and leave them alone. It was a long, hard ride home the rest of the way that night.
He went on to drive a mule team delivering supplies in France during WWI. His team (Jock, Bitta, Snake and Lucky) were four beautifully matched white mules and his skill with them prompted his commanding officer to order him to compete with them in the French National Horseshow of 1918. He was the first American to ever win the blue ribbon at the French Nationals.
At the end of the war as the doughboys were coming home, he was ordered to take his mule team and load them onto a train and then join up with the infantry and march to the port at Brest. As he loaded the mules, Jock spooked and stomped Big Papaw's foot. An officer asked him if he was okay and did he need to see the doctors. Big Papaw thought for a second as he suppressed the pain and then reached down and laced his boot as tight as he could. "I'm fine" he said and walked off to join the infantry. He was afraid of being hospitalized and not being able to go home. Too many soldiers went into the hospitals of those days and never came out. He marched the 25 miles with three broken bones in his foot. But he made it home.
Back home, he went to work for my great grandmother-to be's family. A rakehell of the first order, he was forbidden to see my grandmother. They married not long afterwards. A story told to me years later by an elderly gentleman that had been there that day said Big Papaw had rode up to the front porch of her house (my great great grandfather was a successful farmer and owned huge tracts of land) on his mule, a bandana tied around his head and a single-barrel shotgun in his hand. As the family ran out onto the porch, he said "Clyde I've come here to marry you." My great grandmother, a short lil firebrand in her own right, just smiled at her father and ran to Arthur. They spent the rest of their lives happily together.

Oh my, I've run on about Arthur so much here and have only scratched the surface. I'll continue this later if anyone wants.

(And I do carry Arthur's pocketknife every day. He's my hero, yanno.)

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Beca
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My mother's mother is my Abuela. She was the youngest of nine children of the daughter of a very wealthy family in Ecuador. Shortly after she was born, her father ran off with another woman, and her mother went a little batty, so she was raised by her eldest sister...who had been left at the altar some months before, and needed something to distract herself with - why not give her a child to raise!

So, Abuela is a little...out of this world. She was spoiled rotten as a child, never really had parents, and was the absolutely drop-dead gorgeous center of her social set. She's absolutely charming, has hosted dinner parties for ambassadors and other important political figures, planned and personally catered my parents' wedding reception (I hear the food was unbelievably good), and is about the most unconsciously selfish person I've ever met. She's very intelligent, capable, and she certainly loves her children and grandchildren, but somehow, it has never occurred to her that she isn't the center of the universe. Perhaps, somehow, her upbringing furnished her with that curious delusion of entitlement.

Abuela is Catholic. She goes to church weekly, if not more often. When I was little and misbehaved, she threatened that my guardian angel would abandon me if I didn't obey her. I can't imagine what she would say if she knew my boyfriend is Jewish.

She once tried to give me a sweater for my birthday, and my mother talked her out of it by saying that I really don't wear red anymore (red is one of my favorite colors), so now I don't wear red when I go to visit. The minute she feels her status as the most beautiful person in the room is threatened, she'll start pushing food on you. She speaks Spanish like a high-society lady, and English as though she is perpetually talking to babies and small children. She loves swimming, and taught me how to swim and dive. When we visited family in Ecuador, we spent half the month at the beach, and it was heaven.

My abuelo, my mother's father, decided after forty-five years of marriage that enough was enough, and divorced her.

Abuelo was also from a wealthy, land-owning Ecuadorian family. His father was a violin virtuoso, a genius, and an inventor, and a rumored cocaine user...but only rumored, and he didn't solve mysteries, so he wasn't quite the South American Sherlock Holmes. He also once told my grandfather that the Devil was a close personal friend, and not to worry so much about the hellfire he was being taught about in catechism. My grandfather has had a quiet, emotionally distant relationship with the Catholic church ever since.

He was quite the ladies' man when he was young, and purportedly married my grandmother because she scorned him. He became involved in business, did well, and sang opera on the side (baritone). Business took him, my grandmother, and their two daughters to Cuba, where they lived close to the American embassy, had maids, and an incredible social life. He claims to have nearly run over Batista with a car, by accident. When Castro came to power, they were sent out of Cuba, and my Grandfather decided to go to the United States, rather than back to Ecuador. I don't really know why, since returning to Ecuador would have had enormous financial benefits, and moving to the United States would not.

The Abuelo I knew lived across the street, and visited every day. He would, when he kissed and hugged you "hello," manage to take your temperature, pulse, and check your lower eyelids for signs of anemia. Unlike Abuela, he spoke perfectly (and was unaffected) in Spanish and English. He told the worst English-to-Spanish puns ever heard, and was always charming. I was his "princessa" and he only ever got upset when he saw me wearing unladylike shoes (Doc Martens). He told my mom when she was in high school (and me, when I was in high school) that women should get a Master('s degree) before they get their Mister. When we went to dinner at the best Cuban restaurant in L.A., he let me order an entire plate of maduros fritos, and didn't make me order a real entree. He wore a hearing aid.

I was fifteen when he divorced Abuela. Abuela kept the house across the street, and he moved to Florida. That was almost ten years ago, and I still haven't forgiven him for it. When he moved away, he effectively divorced the rest of us, too, and while he talks to my mom regularly, the rest of us just get short phone calls. I turn into a sullen brat whenever I have to see him (only about 4 times in the past 9 years), and I haven't been able to shake the grudge. I'm still waiting for an apology, but I don't think I'll ever get one.

My paternal grandfather died when I was 11, and I don't remember him terribly well, so everything I can say about him is from the stories I've heard. He was from Iowa, and his parents were Swedish and Norwegian. I think he grew up on a farm....but the story record doesn't start until he "ran away" to join the air force. There's a map hanging in my grandmother's house with pins and strings marking and connecting all the places he was stationed, and it's a very full map. The war story I remember most clearly involves his crew being stranded (their last plane had been stolen? horribly disabled?) on the ground with the enemy about half an hour from arriving, and being rescued by some British soldiers in a stolen enemy tank....after, of course, several tense moments of wondering why no one was firing at them. He was one of the mechanics keeping planes in the air for the Berlin Airlift, and he flew the planes that photographed atomic tests around the Bikini Atoll, the latter activity being at least partially responsible for his passing away in his seventies from cancer of everything. That, and a lifetime of smoking.

He could take any car or plane apart, put it back together, and have the machine work better than before. He didn't much care for humoring children, and he was difficult to impress. When I was little, I would pick flowers and try to give them to him, and he would say "no thank you." On the other hand, he was thoroughly amazed that I could operate the cassette player at the age of two (a feat which my dad holds responsible for Grampa finally changing his mind about my dad's ability to do anything right).

Gramma grew up in Moutainview, CA, on a farm. Her parents were very, very Irish, and she hoped that one of her children, at least, would inherit her father's fire-red hair, but not one of them did. Freckles, yes, and one red beard in the lot, but no red hair.

She caught the measles as a child, but didn't notice, and spent the whole time playing in the orchards, while her older sister was too weak to leave her bed.

Gramma was very bright, and loved math, but didn't go to college because that wasn't something girls did. She carried the post in the war, and met my grandfather when he was stationed in the San Francisco area. I've seen pictures of her and my grandfather, dressed up and out on the town with their friends. She was stunning.

Gramma has the best grandmother voice I've ever heard. She calls soda "sodee-pop" and Worcestershire sauce, "Wooshter sauce." She calls everyone "sugar," except for my father, whom she calls "Eric" (his father named him Glenn - Gramma's reaction was to nod, smile, and call him "Eric"). She feeds hamburger to a particular roadrunner on her back porch (because he expects it), always knows when the quail are hatching, sleeps about three hours a night, and finishes the crossword before anyone wakes up. She also tells wonderful, wonderful stories. I wish she didn't live in Arizona, so I could see her more often, and she doesn't particularly like it there, but she doesn't want to move. You can't really blame her - being an air force wife meant never staying in one place for very long.

And that is my ramble.

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BannaOj
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Was thinking on the meaning of "elephant grandparents" We were talking about a family that tries to ignore the elephant in the middle of the livingroom. In Shan's case Granny is the elephant.

But in a broader sense "elephant" could be taken to mean larger than life, someone who is extremely significant in your life or impossible to ignore.

I'm going to write about my paternal grandfather, Granddaddy. He is now 90 years old and frail with a bit of memory loss, but still pretty sharp for all that. Last year he fell, and broke his neck. At first the doctors thought he had a stroke and the last thing the were looking for on the MRI was a broken neck, but that is what it showed. We could have lost him then, because he wouldn't tolerate a neck brace or them drilling into his head to anchor his neck. But as the broken bones started to heal his stroke like symptoms gradually left. He is still unsteady on his feet though. He loves making jokes and telling stories about when he was young though they can be a bit repetitive.

That is my grandfather today. Granddaddy was born in 1913 in Bern, Indiana. He was an illegitimate child, and has no middle name, because his mother gave him basically the only thing she knew about his father, the same name.

His mother was the youngest of 26 children (2 wives). Her parents died when she was young and she was sent to live with a non-related childless couple who lost three children at birth. They treated her like a full daughter, but the wife died while great-grandma was still in her early teens. Joseph (Seppy) raised my great grandma the best he knew how, without his wife and was also the father to her fatherless son. Granddaddy can remember all of the church bells ringing when WWI ended.

Great-grandma married an older gentleman when Granddaddy was 9 or ten and had two more children. The step-father died several years after the youngest was born, and that left Granddaddy as a teenager to take care of his mother and younger brother and sister through the great depression and WWII.

He did so by working in the local furniture shop and digging ditches when there were no other jobs. One of the wealthier farmer's wives that he did odd jobs for asked him to drive her into town in her husbands truck. Granddady had never driven a truck before but he wasn't about to lose the job. So he practiced by sitting on hay bales and using a broomstick to practice shifting. Apparently it was a jerky ride to town, and he drove ever since, until his eyesight got too bad to pass the test several years ago.

During the WWII years he didn't go to war because he was considered "head of household". Just after the war, his younger brother got a good job and was able to support their mom and sister, and Granddady went to seminary. I haven't ever talked with him specifically about how he felt he was called to the ministry, but I know that he met my Grandma who was going to nursing school in Dallas, TX while he was going to seminary. He was working in a furniture manufacturing plant as a worker to get him through seminary and part-time chaplain and she was related to the head of the furniture company.

They married after a year or two of dating. They were quite a bit older than most newlyweds of that time. Grandma had already been married once, her first husband was a bomber pilot killed over France early in the war.

I don't know when Graddaddy decided to join the military either or why. I only know the events that happened. I know they went to Kansas where he was the preacher at a small country church for a year, because the military wanted all chaplains to have a year of pastoral experience before taking them. That year in Kansas was when my father, their only child was born. Then Granddaddy joined the military, at about 36 an age when they would normally turn down a recruit, even one with an advanced collegiate degree.

Why did the military want my Grandfather? Because he spoke fluent German, with a Swiss accent. He grew up speaking Suissedeutsch, a dialect the settlers from Bern, Switzerland brought with them to Bern, Indiana. With a couple of intermixed assignments here in the US, my father spent the majority of his childhood on high security military installations in what was then West Germany.

Granddaddy would frequently leave on unexpected trips. Sometimes they didn't know he was going until he was gone, and a messenger would come to tell them that he was gone. They knew that you didn't ask questions about how long he would be gone or if he would return. Sometimes they were not allowed to leave the base while he was gone. The world of military intelligance gathering isn't exactly one where you get explanations. They knew he was assigned to the brigade whose symbol is a cloak and dagger, and that the military housing they lived in was far superior to that a chaplian of his actual rank should merit. (Incidentally I've tried to do internet searches on which military intelligence brigade's mascot is the cloak and dagger guy and it is very hard to find. My brothers have each inherited one of his commemorative cloak and dagger coffe table statues and I know it is engraved on the plaques.)

While packing up to move once Grandma and Dad found pictures in the attic that they knew they weren't supposed to see. I believe they were of my grandfather and some high ranking East German officials on the "wrong" side of the Berlin Wall. They told Granddaddy, and of course never saw the pictures again.

Granddaddy also served honorably as a chaplain, in a true chaplain capacity in the Korean War. He was given two bronze stars in Korea. We suspect that they were actually retroactive awards for his time in Germany but will never know for sure.

He retired from the Army a full Colonel to Colorado Springs where he lived a happy and productive life with my Grandmother, until her death 2 years shy of their 50th wedding anniversary. He nursed her through several rounds of cancer, I believe she stayed alive as long as she did because he gave her strength. My parents let him live alone in the house he loved for several years, before finally having him move in with them because of his frailty. Living with my family has been good for him, because he has begun conversing with people on a regular basis again.

He has many stories, about smoking behind the barn, about his first airplane ride with a barnstormer, and many others. They will live on in our memories even after Granddaddy is gone.

AJ

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MaureenJanay
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I need to add this about my granpa, after reading what Mrs. M wrote about her granny. He has not once spelled my name correctly. He spelled it Mureen, maurine, Muarene, and any other combination you could come up with. The first time he ever spelled my first name right was on a check he sent me when I got married. There it was... Maureen . Right after it was my new last name...you guessed it...misspelled. Horribly. The bank wouldn't let me cash the check. *sigh*
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Ayelar
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My grandmother is horrible. She's gotten worse since I told you about her, Banna. It's too depressing to talk about anymore.
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BannaOj
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((Ayelar)) I hear you. I wrote about Granddaddy to focus on the positive side of things. If there is any sanity in my bloodlines it comes from that side of the family not the other effed up side.

AJ

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Ayelar
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Though I know there are positives somewhere in Grandma, I've recently started refusing to think about them. If I instead remember only the 90% of her that is selfish, calculating, cold, cruel, and horrible, it's easier to bear the occasional email reminding me of what a rotten little brat I've become since I met that Jew.
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BannaOj
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Maybe it is horrible of me but I've been talking to my Great Aunt instead of grandma. They hate each other while pretending to love each other. I know Aunt Ruth mentions to grandma that she has heard from me, and I know it chaps grandma's hide, because I never talk to grandma if I can help it. I do enjoy talking to Aunt Ruth, but I also enjoy knowing that it is serving a dual purpose.

Oh the most recent letter which was nastier than many of the previous ones combined was addressed to me AND Steve. I guess addressing it to both of us means she can double the vitrol.

AJ

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Emperor Palpatine
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(Sorry if this seems like an oddly written post, it was written for school and it seemed appropriate. I also realize there isn't much of anything bad about him written, it's more of a tribute.)

I had never been one for crying. It always used to seem anti-alpha male to me, the ultimate showing of weakness.

Before my grandfather died, I hadnít cried at all beyond my childhood years of crying at scraped knees; once I hit nine or ten, nothing phased me to the point of choking me up or breaking me down. I developed a kind of pride at that, having created this sturdy, masculine wall that prevented me from showing any kind of visible sensitivity or heartbreak. Of course, I realize now that living with a stoic, emotional guard is like masochism, and never having found any worth in hurting myself, watching my grandfather pass away was both tragic and cathartic.

Robert Mollin was your atypical patriarchal figurehead, a tough-as-nails Southern Baptist with a retired set of boxing gloves, dozens of grandchildren and a heart of gold. Not to say that he didnít have any faults (he expected my grandmother to live like a wife in servitude instead of a wife equal to her husband), but he knew what love was, the kind of love that binds families and heals wounds without being sappy. He loved you, he knew you loved him, and that was powerful enough.

The first few years of my life were spent living near the Mollins; I still look fondly at an old picture taken of me and my grandfather walking down a beautiful forest path, sunlight beaming down on a small, brown-skinned child wearing a red Mickey Mouse shirt hand-in-hand with a tall, imposing man in farmerís overalls. They would eventually move to Northern California, yet unarguably remain my closest relatives.

Eventually I would grow out of idolizing my grandfather in the naive sense; I loved him even with my faux-macho pretenses, and to this day I continue to look up to him (in both the literal and figurative senses), but I also treated him with a grudging respect that I only began to understand when I got older.

News of his health suddenly declining wasnít surprising, seeing that he had already experienced heart attacks, angina and leukemia in the years leading up to his passing. However, the lack of surprise didnít lessen the impact; the family was shocked into mourning, and any people within a few hundred miles drove to the hospital to witness his inevitable passing. A white mass of fluid had settled around his heart, leaving us without hope for a revival, just the sole option of standing by his side for the last few days of his life.

My mother set up a intimate, quaint funeral the following weekend, where the closest of my grandfatherís friends and family members gathered to honor his memory and listen to a small service devoted to him. One of the more interesting paradoxes that Iíve noticed with people who believe in Heaven is the amount of sadness seen in their faces when a loved one has passed; if passage into Heaven is such a joyous thing, why grieve? I imagine that itís actually a perfect example of a humanís inherent selfishness; we are happy that our loved one has moved into bliss, but we are left devastated by their departure from our own life. I felt this grief incredibly, as did everyone I had joined for the service. Even my brother, who, unlike me, had an impenetrable emotional wall stemming from a traumatic childhood in contrast to my immature, alpha male wall, let a few tears flow (which is surprising for him, since I had never seen him cry once.)

I sat in my service chair, resolved to not crying. Of course, with my luck in trying not to seem like a sap, it worked against me. The thought of never seeing my grandfather again was too horrible, and as happy as I was that he had moved to an afterlife sweeter than his on Earth, it was unbearable to think of him missing in mine. I broke down, feeling my meager shield fall away. Any fear of crying in public or seeming weak in front of my peers failed to matter. After a few seconds, I felt my momís head next to mine and we grieved together, my body heaving in sobs. The grief I felt was incomparable, and though it was relieving to finally release tension that had built up over a course of years, it was heart-wrenching nonetheless. I had watched my grandfather die and pass on, and I selfishly wanted him back.

[ October 01, 2003, 04:39 PM: Message edited by: Emperor Palpatine ]

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