Thursday, January 22, 2015
Grandma Betty is 87 and still living on her own in a little condo, drives her own car, takes my cousin Olivia to and from school daily (that's actually Olivia behind her in the picture), goes out to the movies and dinner with friends once a week - she has a better social life than most people I know. She's beginning to slow down a tiny bit - she needs hearing aids these days, she walks with a cane, and she doesn't bake much anymore because of her diabetes.
But her pies - oh, when she baked a pie, it was the stuff of legend! The crusts were perfectly flaky, the filling was never too sweet or too tart. One memorable summer in my teens, I helped pit sour cherries from a neighbors tree, and she made them into the most wonderful cherry pies I had ever tasted. One of my dad's favorite meals that she would make was stuffed pork chops - serious food that would settle into your belly and saturate your whole being with a cozy, well-fed feeling.
She's still going because she always kept going. She raised 6 kids with spotty backup from an alcoholic husband, and even though she stayed married to him until he died, she didn't put up with his crap and lived separately from him in his later years. She's a Pittsburgh woman, sweet and loving, but tough as nails. When I was little, she was always the fun grandma who would play on the floor with you. She just "got" little kids. These days she can't get down on the floor, but but we visited her around Christmas she got out her stash of toys. Tristan found a ball (his favorite toy lately) and she flipped her cane over and used it as a croquet mallet, knocking the ball back to Tristan over and over again.
She a prayer powerhouse, too. It seems like she sits right in God's ear.
She's not all sweetness and light though, driving in the car or watching a Steelers game with her is an education in vocabulary. That woman can cuss the ears off a dead dog!
Then there was the time she almost ran over Mr. Rogers in the early '80's. Yes, THE Fred Rogers. He was crossing the street in front of her, she braked hard (probably called him some interesting names) and suddenly registered who it was that just waved at her. She told me "I could see the headlines - 'Grandmother kills Mr. Rogers!'".
She worked at J.C. Penneys for years - I'll never know how, but the year of the Cabbage Patch craze, she got me an original Babyland General Hospital doll, with a cloth head and handmade shoes. I still have her, though the shoes went missing years ago. She's probably pretty valuable by now - I haven't checked.
She's still in fairly good health, but sometimes I worry about her. She's had quite a few neighbors in her condo building take nasty falls or get stuck, and they didn't always have their MedAlert button with them. These are stories that give me chills to think about. I've been thinking about her a lot since our most recent visit, and pray for her safety often.
This is a spotty, strange post, but I'm just going to leave it as is. It mirrors my thought patterns today.