Grandma’s birthday is today. She’s pictured here without the bathing cap (her sister is wearing the cap).
Here’s what I knew of her as a not young person sitting at a water hole located somewhere in Pennsylvania of the 1920s.
1) She took each of her grandkids to an adventure with her. Mine was hanging out with her in Europe with Auntie.
2) We had an unfortunate dinner experience in perhaps Liechtenstein where the food was supposedly to die for the restaurant itself was smothering, humid, and the maitre d’ was entirely too hot wearing a tux made out of the finest sheep’s wool (we were not in a sauna, mister). He spent the evening muttering to himself, almost crying, the entire time we were there. We were the only people there that evening. Grandma made fun of him, and then of us, reminding us that we, too, spoke several different languages.
“We do,” we said.
“Yeah,” she said, holding up her fingers. “Pig Latin, English, and Hillbilly.”
She then demonstrated an uncanny ability to fire off rapid Bovine Latin. You think you know someone and then they pull that stunt off, what does that do to your sense of the world?
And then she switched to Hillbilly. This set like a jello mold in our lingual cortexes, Auntie’s and mine, which caused an inability to not speak anything but Hillbilly. We gave ourselves names. She became Melba. Auntie became Eunice, like the character on the Carole Burnett show. And I… I struggled until I thought of my favorite character on SNL, “I’ll be Suzy-Judy-Gloria.” We drove through other parts of Yurp, Switzerland, Austria, the Black Forest in W. Germany. And it was Hee Haw the rest of the tahhm.
3) She and my grandfather suffered from the condition known as FOMO. She, an old lady by that time, told us while eating the auberge’s hard boiled eggs, Bavarian bread, jam, and butter, and coffee, that she and Grandpa cut their honeymoon short because they didn’t want to miss out on all the parties back home. One such party was held in a bar that had beautiful ladder-back chairs. She wanted one and so stole it.
“How,” we asked, “do you steal a chair from a bar?”
She said, “I pretended I was going to faint and so needed to be near the door. I brought the chair with me to support me in case I passed out. When no one was looking I scampered out the door and took the chair with me. Put it in the trunk. Came back looking refreshed from all that air.””
4) Liked to use the terms “beauty” and “dirty dog” when playing cards.
5) Loved playing cards.
6) Loved talking.
7) Was offered a job at the age of 60 something to sit in a bar in Cork, Ireland and just drink and talk to everyone. The barkeep would house her upstairs.
8) She thought long and seriously about the job offer.
9) It was too grand for her.