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Entry date: 6-16-2022 - Happy Birthday Granny - Letters to My Friends

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

Dear Friends,

Today is my grandmother’s birthday. I call her “Granny” and dedicated readers will know this. She is 96 years old today.

Granny’s name is Amy in real life and she’s maybe 70 Lbs these days and a whopping 4’6” tall. On her best day she was probably 5’1” and 110 Lbs, so petite is one way to describer her. She also looks a bit like Ruth Gordon who was in Harold and Maude and the Every Which Way But Loose movies, to name a few. Actually, Granny was much more of a looker in her day than Ruth Gordon ever was with her pretty red hair and sense of style.

She was always just Granny to me, though. She would make me cinnamon pie crust as a kid because I loved it. Bacon sandwiches for lunch, too, was part of her over and above grandmotherly duties. I had it made as kid because she was such a good cook. I use the past tense here because, well, she’s 95 and it’s been at least seven or eight years since she has cooked me anything. I think the last thing she made for me specifically was chicken and dumplings, which was another of her specialties.

I can’t believe I said, “good cook.” To be clear, she was amazing in the kitchen. She loved to make food for the family, and it seemed like she cooked something great every day. My dad and I would eat dinner at their house a few nights a week and this was after my parents divorced. It probably wasn’t the best thing for my dad to remain so close to his ex-in-laws, but he enjoyed a good meal like anyone else.

It’s hard for me to imagine that she was just 43 when I was born. She always seemed kind of old to me, but now I realize she really wasn’t that old at all when I came along. She and my grandfather got married when she was very young, probably 19 or 20 years old, and he was injured in a car accident not long after, breaking his spine.

That alone would have killed a lot of marriages.

I’d love to say theirs was an idyllic marriage, but I don’t think it was. I do believe that my grandfather loved my grandmother with all he had and she him, too, but it was hard on them both. Being a small woman, it would have been a huge challenge to have a paraplegic husband, even one as capable as my grandfather was.

Either way, I have so much respect for how she has lived her life. She would have made an excellent writer. I believe there was a best seller or two in her, for sure. I wish she would have written down the history of her early life with her sisters and all the relatives I grew up hearing about who were part of her life.

She had five sisters. You may remember a blog from last month talking Granny’s sister, Aunt Louise. In the past couple of years, we have said goodbye to Aunt Louise and Aunt JoAnn. I know it has hit Granny very hard and she may very well end up being the last one. My mom shared with me that my great Aunt Lois and great Aunt Delores are both not in the best health.

As I shared back in January, I think, or early February, I have been concerned about Granny’s health, too. It’s not great and she’s not really one to make a fuss about such things, so I’m always worried that when I hang up the phone with her, it could be the last time I talk to her. She’s been very nervous about Covid and I don’t blame her, so I’ve only seen her in person a couple of times in the last few years.

It’s weird to think that I used to see her almost every day. Dad would drop me off at their house in the mornings on his way to work and I would eat breakfast, read the paper with Papa, and then he would take me to school. Occasionally, Granny would have to drive me if Papa was in the hospital, which would happen occasionally, or he couldn’t do it. She was not the best driver, so I kind of dreaded those days. Plus, I knew she really didn’t like to drive so I hated for her to have to do it.

We would go on excursions, though, from time to time to the grocery store or up to Hobie House. She knew I liked the clothes at Hobie House, which was a surf shop on 7th Street just north of Glendale, and sometimes she would feel like splurging a bit. To say Granny is a generous gal is an understatement.

It makes me feel a bit bad that my memory of the time I pushed her in the pool in their backyard. I must’ve been about 10 or so, so she was about my age now. She would often be dressed in these sorts of pajama-like clothes that she liked to wear around the house, and she had an apron around her (probably cooking something for dinner or lunch) and I snuck up behind her and pushed her in while she was talking to my grandfather who was swimming with me.

He was so mad at me. She was, too, for a minute, but I was forgiven pretty quickly. I felt bad enough afterwards and caught some hell for it, but it was worth it, I swear. I have brought that up a couple of times over the years and the smile she gives me always lets me know that I was forgiven.

I appreciate her so much for all she has done for me. I hope she knows that our phone calls mean a ton to me, and I look forward to talking to her. I’m a lucky grandson, for sure.

Happy birthday, Granny. I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

See you tomorrow.

Granny and I in Easy Street. Probably 1986 as I had a mohawk in the summer of 1987 when she would have been down from Colorado. Could be 1985, but I doubt it.

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