I don’t know how I missed it last year but tomorrow is the hundred and first anniversary of my paternal grandmother’s birth. I’m usually good with this kind of thing but I missed it last year. I think I was in the hospital and when I looked at the calendar, I was thinking about my situation rather than any historical events.
Off the top of my head, my grandmother is one of the few people I can think of who I know was adopted. It was pretty common in those days, when Catholic girls often gave up their children to avoid family embarrassment or to continue school. Little did they know, they would start having eight to ten children just a few years later. My grandmother, whose name was Lena, had eight eventually. My father was the eldest.
I don’t know if my grandfather was a bad guy. He was always very kind to me but he was an alcoholic and I’m pretty sure he was abusive, which was fairly common in those days, as I understand things.
I think he came and went. My grandmother suffered from epilepsy and she was in and out of hospitals fairly frequently. An uncle of mine once told me of picking up his father at an incarceration facility and his mother at the Brockville mental facility on the same day. Saves gas, I guess.
My grandmother had a rough life but more than anything, I remember she had any easy laugh. One time she was on the phone with my mom, a wall-mounted phone, and my youngest uncle was doing his homework in the kitchen at the kitchen table, a few feet from the phone. My grandmother was leaning against the wall and wouldn’t you know it, a light burned out above my uncle, who was still in high school. And then a minute later, another expired, and then a third. He was getting really frustrated but my grandmother just started laughing and laughing. It turns out she’d been leaning against the light switch plate and kept turning out the lights. I’d never seen my mother laughing so hard in her whole life as they were speaking on the phone. Almost fifty years later, it still brings tears of joy to my eyes.
My grandmother died when I was eight years old. And her grave marker was only a few blocks from where I lived for most of my youth and more than a decade of my later adulthood. I can’t believe I missed her hundredth birthday. Well, I guess I have one day left, today, to mark the anniversary.
And it gives me the opportunity to remember my mother laughing harder than I’d ever heard her laugh before or since. It’s funny what we can remember forty-five years later.
Happy one hundred and first, Granny!!!