Today in My History2001: Rose Colored Glasses
2002: My Life in the Fleshpots of SF
2003: If It's Tuesday
2004: Going Up in Smoke
2005: So What Made the Cut?
2006: Keeping Priorities Straight
2007: For You, Only For You
2008: Short and Sweet
IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2009
"The Thunderbolt Kid"
Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
VIDEO OF THE DAY / WEEK / WHATEVER
and on You Tube
"HON, LIKE A GOOD GIRL..."
12 March 2009
I don't think about my father's mother much. I suspect nobody does. Some time after her death my mother and I were saying how sad it was to live so long and have nobody miss you after your death. Nobody knew exactly how old she was because she altered the family Bible so that her birth date didn't show. We know she was as young girl during the 1906 earthquake. When I was born, she didn't want to be called "Grandma" because it made her sound too old. She was always "Nannie."
It wasn't that she was mean; far from it. But she was domineering and just...irritating. Some of her -isms are still indelibly imprinted in my brain so that I have never, I don't believe, ever said to one of my children--or anybody's children, "Hon, like a good (girl/boy) would you...." That may seem like a little thing, but she would plop herself somewhere and then begin issuing orders. "Hon, like a good girl could you get me a tissue, please?" "Hon, like a good girl, could you refill my glass, please?" "Hon, like a good girl could you open a window?" The term "Hon, like a good girl could you..." still grates on my nerves, even though I haven't heard it in over 35 years.
My father's good mood could be ruined by riding in the car with her, when she would grab the back of his seat to give him directions. He would feel that hand pull back on the driver's seat and you could just see him tense up--and you knew that it would not be a good day after he let her out at home.
It was nothing big that she did. You couldn't point to anything and say "I hate her because she did this awful thing..." She was the Chinese water torture of grandmothers. She was a mosquito that wouldn't leave. Always buzzing around your head as an irritant.
Perhaps a big part of it was that she was just always there. My grandparents never owned a car, so were dependent on my father to take them everywhere, so we saw them all the time. We took them to church every Sunday. They seemed to go everywhere with us. (I wonder now how we all fit, since we always had a normal size car. Did they go everywhere with us when Karen and I began to get to be adult size?)
But, in fairness, not all of my memories are unpleasant. I remember as a young child having sleep-overs at my grandparents' apartment. They lived in the same apartment from the time my father was very young until my grandmother was no longer able to live on her own, a couple of years before she died. It was essesntially a 2-room apartment with kitchen and bathroom. There was a living room that looked out onto the street, a dining room, a small kitchen and the bathroom that she scrubbed daily. Both the living room and the dining room had Murphy beds which folded down from the wall and I thought that was the coolest thing. My grandfather slept in the dining room and my grandmother in the living room. Her mattress was so old that there was a huge indent in the middle of it and I loved to climb into bed and sink into that depression. She would move me over when she got into bed, covered with the creams that she bathed herself in each night before she went to sleep.
I remember that she kept water in the fridge. She also kept a glass in there so she never had to pour cold water into a room temperature glass. I loved going to that fridge and getting a glass of icy cold water.
Every dinner with my grandparents started with hors d'oeuvres and drinks. For us kids there was always ginger ale and the ubiquitous cheese curls. There would often be broiled mayonnaise-parmesan cheese-scallion topped toast slices as a hot hors d'oeuvre. Food was a very big part of my memories of my grandmother.
She was also always worried about my heart. From the apartment you could look down at the guy selling newspapers on the corner. My grandfather read the #9 Call Bulletin, the last published in the day (in those days there were several editions of the paper that were published each day!) and when it arrived, he would give me a quarter and send me down to get the paper. I would run down and run back again and up the stairs to the second floor apartment. My grandmother always scolded and told me I should never run because it was bad for my heart!
But one positive memory I have of her is manicures. At some point in her life she had worked as a manicurist and whenever I went to visit, she would give me a manicure. She would have me sit with one hand in a soap solution until the cuticles softened, then she'd work on that hand while I soaked the other hand.
First there was the orange board. I never figured out why it was called an "orange board" (for all I know it still is today). Just a stick that she used to push back the cuticles. Then she would shape and file the nails and end the manicure with a couple of coats of clear nail polish. I felt very grown up.
I know a lot of women who have regular manicures, but in my adult life I have had exactly two. I had one the day before our wedding day, while I was having my hair done at a beauty shop in San Francisco. I nearly missed the appointment because LBJ was in town and they closed off part of the freeway while his entourage passed.
The second manicure I had was in Santa Barbara a couple of years ago, when I went with all the women before Walt's sister's wedding.
Otherwise, I have not had manicures and don't really think about my hands at all, until time such as now when the cuticles are so cracked that they are actually painful. For one brief moment, I almost wish Nannie were back so she could sit down with me and give me a manicure.
"Hon, like a good girl, could you please make my nails look good again?"
Cousins Day is tomorrow -- next entry will be posted late
PHOTO OF THE DAY
MILES TO NOWHERE: 102 miles