Remembering Grandma at the Thirtieth School Reunion

Remembering Grandma at the Thirtieth School Reunion

When children guessed her age, I guess they might have guessed a million,
for her skin was fried and wrinkled and her manner most reptilian.

Her humor was peculiar—ribald, clever, sly.
Her whiskered chin was wobbly. She was rheumy in one eye.

When she talked about the old days and when people really listened,
her face seemed somehow younger and her eyes sparkled and glistened,

but she sputtered over S’s and dribbled when she talked.
She listed, lurched and wobbled. She zigzagged when she walked.
She loved her old blue tennis shoes with laces hanging down—
the only shoes she wore when she chose to go to town.
Still, her corns rubbed and her toes hurt. She preferred feet that were bare,
so she very rarely moved about once planted in her chair.

When her children brought her meals to her, they couldn’t linger long.
She couldn’t quite remember what it was that she’d done wrong.
Her grandkids liked her better and endured her bitter wit.
She taught them Chinese Checkers and some of them to knit,
but as they aged they visited less and less and less.
They didn’t like the odors. They didn’t like the mess.

And finally, as youngest, only I was able
to bear sitting with Grandma at her Chinese checkers table.
Only I could stand all the complaints and labored sighs—
all of the self-pity that shone out of her eyes.
But later, as a teen-ager, my visits, too, grew less.
Busy with my friends and school and other things, I guess.

And for all the years after she died, I thought about the years
when even I deserted her and I was brought to tears,
until my thirtieth class reunion, when a classmate I’d not seen
since we graduated, and for all the years between,
told a tale I’d never heard that made me realize
that there was more to life than what met my ears and eyes.

When television, new to town, kept Grandma company,
wild cats from her old henhouse came to sit upon her knee,
and the kids from the next corner also came to see,
for with ten kids in the family, they didn’t have TV.
It grew into a ritual. When they saw the sheen
emanating from the light of her TV screen,

they’d all drop in to see her and they’d stay until their pop
walked down from their house to bring their viewing to a stop.
Only the oldest daughter got to stay there until ten,
watching shows with Grandma—pretty ladies, handsome men,
cowboy shows and orchestras, adventure and romance.
They watched their favorite characters shoot and kiss and dance.

“We kids all called her Grandma,” my old classmate  confessed.
That she’d had this second family, our family hadn’t guessed.
So all those nights I thought that she’d been sitting all alone,
she’d been surrounded by her minions, like a queen upon her throne.
It seems the true facts of our past by memory can’t be gauged,
for sometimes history is rewritten and our consciences assuaged.

Prompt words today are reptilian, plant, ribald, peculiar and fried.

15 thoughts on “Remembering Grandma at the Thirtieth School Reunion

    1. lifelessons Post author

      This time true…But as I read my diary from ages 11 and 12 I often mention walking down to Grandma’s and taking her a frosty freeze or slush, so perhaps I didn’t neglect her as much as I remembered. And we took her a huge plate every noon with enough food for two meals. That was our main meal–and had her over Sundays and for all holidays. My older sister took her out for rides, but whenever we went she would just complain that we hadn’t come more often, soooo…..My dad had alot of resentment against her from their earlier life together and her other daughter really didn’t have much to do with her other than having her for holiday meals when it was her turn. My dad supported her and my Mom cooked her meals every day, but we were a busy family and she wasn’t the center of attention as she wished to be. I was gratified to learn years later that she was the center of attention for one little cluster of kids. Made me so happy.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Another good reason not to skip your school reunions. You find out all sorts of interesting information told in retrospect. The boys you liked who really liked you but you were both pretending not to..the people who thought you were stuck up when you were really shy but had good posture—ha. The cousin of my high school boyfriend, now deceased, drove 23 miles to a school reunion of a school he didn’t even go to to tell me that his cousin really did love me..So strange. I had never met this cousin and that boyfriend was happily married for years before he died. Oh the secrets we learn at school reunions.

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      1. Eilene Lyon

        I suppose that happens for people who lived in one place most of their lives. I went to several reunions, but I’ve completely lost interest. I only lived there 2.5 years of my life.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      I know. i was so comforted by the thoughts of her surrounded by all those little kids every night. And the thought of them at the window waiting for the glow of her TV through her window!

      Like

      Reply

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