On Saturday, my grandma, Beverly, is coming over to spend the night. Friends, let me tell you. This. Is. Big. This will be our first sleepover in a very long time. In fact, it might be our first sleepover, just us, in decades. She doesn't know it yet, but I have several goals for our visit. Some will not surprise her, such as getting our nails done, drinking our coffee black, playing with Muffin (her dog that I now take care of), and slurping down a pair of Faygo Red Pop floats. I do have one goal that she probably doesn't expect, though, which is making her tell and re-tell lots of stories about her life so I can record and share them here. It's going to be amazing. (At least I think so, but she might be slightly less enthused.)
The thing is, guys, as far as lovely human beings go, my grandma is in the upper echelon. She has a heart of gold, is hilariously gullible, makes the best food, is unfairly generous, and has been known to shoot Amaretto from paper cups. (Honestly, the latter is an aspect of her life that I'm hoping to get some clarity on this weekend.) I'm fortunate to be related to her (literally, but we'll cover that later), and I'm even more fortunate that we've always been very close.
Grandma and I go way back to my beginning in 1983. She took me home from the hospital after I was born. My mom had contracted a staph infection in the hospital and had to stay there longer. So Grandma busted me out of the joint, and we hit the road. I imagine us whipping up M-24 like Thelma and Louise, only I sincerely hope that I was in a car seat (with my family, there is some room for doubt here). Our first destination after the hospital was LS Family Foods, the grocery store where she worked in Lake Orion, Michigan. As she tells it, she had to stop on the way home to show all her friends at work her first grandchild. We were tight from day one. At least that's what I assume. I obviously don't remember that day.
Indeed, I have no memories of my grandma until I was a toddler at my aunt's wedding reception. My toddler brain doesn't remember much, but it remembers one thing from that night: Grandma was having so much fun celebrating her last child's marriage that she was dancing on the tables. You can imagine my disappointment when I grew up and discovered that this doesn't happen at all weddings. I don't know that I ever saw her do that at another wedding again, but let's get one thing straight right now: if I ever get married and she's at my wedding, I'll be damned if we don't dance on the table together.
Grandma and I got very close over my early childhood years. I spent most of my weekends with her. My biological father, Grandma's son, suffers greatly from alcoholism. Due to this, he and my mom divorced when I was so young that I don't even remember it. And on every weekend when my father should have had me, I hung out with Grandma instead. As far as I was concerned, I'd hit the jackpot.
It was during these times when I learned a lot from Grandma. We did typical "grandma" things like play Go Fish, Solitaire, and Gin Rummy. But she also taught me–by example, I might add–things like how to do a headstand, slurp spaghetti noodles, and blow straw wrappers off of restaurant straws (my first attempt at this landed my straw wrapper in an old man's ear). She also taught me a lot about food and let me cook alongside her with my own Fischer Price kitchen. To this day, some of my favorite recipes come from her. Goulash. Chili. Zucchini stew. Perfect winter meals.
Grandma also instilled in me my earliest business skills. We, of course, did the classic lemonade stand in the front yard. But before long, we progressed to door-to-door fingernail painting and later, my personal favorite, rock selling. The value add for the latter was that I had custom painted the merchandise with watercolors. Not to be diminished among these early introductions to work life, however, is the fact that Grandma introduced me to my first computer, an Apple II. On it, I admittedly played Frogger and Wheel of Fortune, but I also began experimenting with the command line and used Typing Tutor to learn to type. Grandma encouraged a goal of 55 words per minute with 100% accuracy. I practiced fiercely every weekend.
Never one to be too serious, Grandma also exposed me to some classic entertainment. She introduced me to Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann, watched I Love Lucy with me, and told me about Evil Knievel and Cheech & Chong. She harassed me about my Madonna obsession ("I don't know why you like her so much; she's just wearing her underwear.") and had me convinced for several years that her car radio could only play country music. She gave me my first novel, The Hobbit, and told me about some of her own favorite "books," like Under the Bleachers by Seymour Buttz.
These are just a few of my favorite Grandma memories from the first 8ish years of my life. There's so much more nestled deep in my heart and mind. I cannot wait to spend the weekend with her, uncovering it all and reminiscing about what a wonderful life she created—not only for herself but for our whole family.
Stay tuned, friends. I don't know what these blogs posts are going to be like just yet, but I hope they will be a treat for anyone who knows our dear Beverly.