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4 kittens

You really are the best + everything I need.

Posted on 2017.12.24 at 20:21
Oh, huh, I failed to post. Whoops.

My cousin told me this story: my uncle R was radicalized in college, upon talking to his grandparents, Sonia and Jerome, and finding out their communist beliefs. Sonia and Jerome lived down the street in Lawrence, Kansas; he spent the night at their house all the time, growing up. How had Uncle R not learned of their communism before that?  He asked them this. Sonia and Jerome explained: their daughter (his mother (my grandmother (the centurion))) had forbid them from discussing their political beliefs with the grandchildren.

I was gobsmacked to hear this story, which is a story primarily about Grandma's controlling, domineering ways, and whether or not her domination had limits. It's not about the communism or radicalism, both well-known and carried on.  This story was told to illustrate my cousin's side in the perennial debate of Whether Grandma Knew. Did Grandma know about my grandfather's secret identity? My cousin said yes - Grandma is capable of great duplicity. (We also know that Grandma can lie freely, because she covered up my grandfather's first marriage which she helped wreck.)(Sure, Grandma and Erik Sr. broke up a marriage in their courtship, and then never admitted it. In and of itself, I'm not too concerned. What's hilarious/terrible is how Grandma lorded her longterm marriage over people every chance she got. She had a standard stump speech about how her marriage lasted 40 years, and all her children had never been divorced and were in longterm marriages. Grandma would give this speech recklessly, ignoring whoever she was insulting along the way, like at my cousin's wedding, where the bride herself was divorced. OH GRANDMA.)

Nevertheless, I generally don't think Grandma knew. I agree that had she known, she'd have been capable of keeping the secret, though.

...



I have two brothers, and occasionally we all sit together.

...

Grandma's cake had 100 candles:



The 36,525 days was computed with careful consideration of leap years: in a year divisible by 100, there is no leap day unless it is also divisble by 400, as was Y2K. So Grandma did in fact have 25 leap days, but it was a non-trivial deduction.

The 5200 weeks was computed carelessly. I chose not to divulge this fact to my uncle, who worked so hard to make the weekend a success, and who was so proud of his calculation of the total days. In fact, if you take the total days - 36,525 - and divide by 7, you get 5217.86 weeks. Each year has 1 or 2 extra days beyond 52 weeks.




Grandma now wears these headphones so that she can more easily hear you.  After we sang happy birthday and the great-grandkids blew out the candles, and ate cake, we sang Here We Are Together, which is a family ritual of self-imposed embarrassment.  My cousin had us sing it when she was 2 or 3, and then Grandma enforced it for the next three decades whenever we were all together. We all used to feel terribly self-conscious, but of course less so this time around. It's just so dorky.

Then my uncle offered up the mike (figuratively) for anyone who wanted to share a special memory. Each of Grandma's three children spoke, and I spoke, and Grandma's eldest nephew spoke. Then there was a lull, and my uncle suggested we move on to the next item on the agenda. "Rik!" my grandma admonished, "Give everyone a chance to talk!"  She was unusually lucid and attentive. She really adored hearing everyone talk about her.

I hope this doesn't come across as too mean. She is/was a very smart, incredibly affectionate, difficult person who lacked all ability for introspection and dominated everyone in her family. Is that nicer? I really am fond of her. What I said, in my speech, was something like: [first I choked up and had to wait until tears receded, such is the curse of sentimentality] "When we were in a family gathering, we always butted heads and fought a lot. But when it was just the two of us, it all fell away and we just hung out and talked about anything and enjoyed each other's company." Then Grandma asked, dreamily, "What did we talk about?" I was caught off-guard and couldn't think of something. "I don't know! Everything!" Instead I segued to the trips we took: "You visited me at college, in grad school, at Heebieville. We went to Poland together. We went on the road trip from Toronto, down through Vermont, over to New Hampshire, Boston, and ended up in New York."

It is a true thing: without a third party, I put my full attention on Grandma and didn't feel the need to needle her. Without a limelight, she stopped provoking and dominating quite as much. We still fought some, but it was okay. I'm not opposed to sparring with Grandma.

After the speeches, we danced the Virgina Reel. It was mentioned that my grandfather was the one who brought square-dancing to the family. The Jewish guy from the lower east side who reinvented himself as the American cheese to end all cheeses. Coincidentally, this article just came out about the antisemitic perpetuation of square-dancing in the early 20th century. Who can say.

My brother pushed my grandmother around during the Virginia wheel. She seemed to know what was going on.

...

The next day, I visited my grandmother, and she was really not clear-thinking and able to grasp conversation. She was focused on areas where no one was standing, addressing people who weren't present, and so on. I'm sure the party really took a toll on her.  It was amazing how lucid and herself she was, during the two hour affair.

Her vision and hearing are both dismal, at this point. She must be so bored, or maybe she's winding down. She sleeps nearly all the time, waking to eat. She no longer eats solid food.  My uncle visits her daily, but I don't think she has energy for more than a 5 or 10 minute visit.

Would she be more lucid if she lived in a big, boisterous noisy home full of family? Is she bored, or is she winding down on the inside? She mostly has not been distressed in her senility, although sometimes she now does have confused, distressed days.

...

Sleeping boys:



Jammies and Rascal, in Wisconsin.



Me and Pokey, also in Wisconsin. He had just turned 2, and I was pregnant with Ace. We were waiting for a train in a blizzard, after my grandma's 95th birthday party.

...

Rascal has a new catchphrase.  He says crossly, "Who cares about that," when he's grumpy. I love it and cannot help but parrot it back to him. Then he says, "I SAY THAT. Not you," with a touch of anger.

Hey Mosi! Did you know you have blue smudges on your nose?



WHO CARES ABOUT A BLUE NOSE.

Here is the canonical Rascal at this age: "I'm Taz! Pretend I'm a puppy named Taz!" (That's the name of his teacher's puppy.)  So we do. C'mon Taz, it's time to get into your puppy carseat! Brush your puppy teeth! Would you like some puppy treats? while he scoots around on his hands and knees and screeches like a hurt bird. His puppy sounds are not accurate.

....


Ace, playing tic tac toe with Uncle K:
"Let's play where you can put two down, at a time!" It's a big wooden set with physical Xs and Os.
Uncle K agreed. They played like so.
And then, "Let's play where you can put three down at a time!" Ace pushed.
(This time Uncle K balked.)

Jammies' parents and brother K arrived on Thursday.

....

This thank you note is from a classmate of Ace's:



It reads:
Thank you Ace for giving me presents for my birthday. Sometimes I love to play w/ you. And Ace, you really are the best and you're everything I need. Love, Ashley.

This really is the best and everything I need, too.

Ace was very worried that the cats would open the Christmas present for me:




and so she hid it in my closet.
....

It's been two years since my mastectomy. I thought that wearing fake boobs would be more comfortable. In fact, I thought it feel more-or-less invisible. It doesn't, and that is discouraging. I just don't like the way some clothes look, when I'm flat. So I'm always planning my outfits in response to whether or not I feel like wearing prosthetics that day.

I did buy a super fancy mastectomy bra from Ana Ono. The fabric is a million times softer than any other bra I've ever felt, which helps substantially with the band. The cups, though: sometimes they're against my skin, and then they fall away (because I'm a bit concave), and the repeated on and off is irritating.

....

What kind of things do you find in Hawaii's bed? Things like so:



Hilarious. I assume she cradles and strokes it when she wants to kill us. I asked her about it, and she gave me the shruggie emoji, more or less.

Later, I asked her to create a Hawaii Original work of art for our friend's birthday. She complied thusly:



...

I used my mother's day present photo for the holiday card:



Right now the Catholic church down the street is playing Silent Night on its bells. It's rather lovely.

Comments:


Kelly Jennings
Kelly Jennings at 2017-12-25 03:44 (UTC) (Link)

OMG Ace


Ace and the tic-tac-toe strategy is my new favorite.

Though Hawaii and the FUCK is a close second. :D
heebie-geebie
heebie_geebie at 2018-01-01 03:55 (UTC) (Link)

Re: OMG Ace

I think you really, truly get us.
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