I looked at my computer this morning. It was rife with tons of delicious new posts from many of my favorite bloggers. The only difficult challenge was going to be figuring out who to read first. So many authors, such unique points of view! Before I could make a decision on which author would get me started, I caught a glimpse of a strange looking woman on my screen. She bore something of a resemblance to Al Jolson in blackface wearing a blonde wig. Apparently the woman had been arrested after taking her 5 year old daughter into a tanning salon with her.
I knew in my heart that I should have been reading the latest literary artistry of the Byronic Man, or looking to see if The Paltry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman had posted part 2 of her hysterical description of the yoga experience. Yet here I was scanning this sordid bit of scandal sheet fluff for gory details. Of course, it was devoid of much information beyond the unbelievable headline and comical photo.
Before I could get back on track to read the blogs, I was transfixed by the horrific story of the hang gliding accident where a young woman fell nearly 1000 feet to her death. Upon landing, the pilot ate the memory card from the on-glider camera! As tragic and unreal as the story was, until the laxatives take effect, there’s not much more to report. I knew that up-and-comer Shut Up Dad would be writing again soon and I really should start my day with a laugh and a sarcastic comment. Dotty the Headbanger is always good for a bizarre taste of her mental corner of the UK.
Despite my best intentions, I was grabbed by yet another outrageous headline. After picking up my jaw off the counter, I glanced at the clock and realized with a start that I was running late for work. Muttering to myself, I grabbed my lunch and headed out of the house. Instead of starting my day with the humor and creativity of k8edid, I had read a story which gnawed at me like a caraway seed lodged between my molars all day.
Apparently, a pair of grandparents, ages 47 and 49, were accused of drinking, driving and towing their 7 year old grand daughter down the street in a Barbi Ferrari at speeds of 5 to 10 milers per hour. They had tied a couple of dog leashes to the toy car and the other end to the trailer hitch on their SUV. They were arrested and charged with a variety of offenses. When the police contacted the little girl’s father, he showed up and was verbally abusive to his drunk mother. As if this story wasn’t disturbing enough, the son had disrespected the woman who brought him into this world!
Instead of spending my carefree morning chuckling to myself over the quirky musings of some of my favorite writers, I was stuck thinking about “Grandparents Gone Wild”.
I tried to wrap my head around it. Drunk grandparents – towing their precious 7 year old grand daughter without so much as a knee pad or a helmet. It was nearly impossible to really grasp it.
Maybe part of the difficulty I had was due to my family history. I couldn’t help but recall my own grandparents, with great fondness and nostalgia.
My Dad’s parents did some driving, especially my grandfather, who drove countless miles across the midwest as a salesman. His wife, a petite, elegant woman, drove far less, and usually required some sort of extra cushion beneath her to see over the steering wheel in her cat-eye glasses, pumps and stylish dress. We lived on the east coast and didn’t get to see them as often as we liked, but they would always share the love when we did. My Gram made wonderful chocolate chip cookies and my Grandaddy would always slip my brothers and me each a 10 dollar bill at some point during their visits. He had incredible stories which I believed to be factual, despite the time honored family tradition of being bullshitters. In retrospect, the key seemed to be to weave the far-fetched ones in with actual family history. We all loved Grandaddy’s stories, partly because of the stories themselves, but just as much because of the way he told them. For all the miles he drove, I’m pretty sure he never towed any of us behind him.
My Mom’s parents were quite different. That grandfather was a quiet man. He’d had many jobs, all of them requiring hard work and long hours. He’d been working since he’d been twelve or possibly younger. Grandpa was not the type to talk about his life or how many years he’d worked; I had to get that information from my mom and Nanny. Nanny was the outspoken, extrovert of that couple. Grandpa enjoyed a well made, dry martini. Just one, savored with a cigar and The Asbury Park Press. He knew a little bit about how a well made martini should be made, as he had tended bar for years at the Elks Club in Red Bank, New Jersey. He understood drinking too; he partook of spirits in an almost reverential way. I never saw him have more than one martini, and I certainly never saw him drunk. My grandmother preferred a Jack Rose, an old-timey drink which included Apple Jack and sour mix. She too, never had more than one. Her vice of choice was not alcohol, but sundaes with some of the most improbable combinations of ice cream flavors, syrups, toppings and fruit. I won’t describe them further, as her taste in sundaes is worthy of an entire post of its own.
I don’t remember seeing any of my grandparents intoxicated. Not even tipsy. They drove for work and to get their errands done. To get from one place to another. Throughout my childhood, young adult years and beyond, they’ve been a presence for me. I’m not always aware of the strength I draw from them, or how their presence continues long after their passing, but today I’m feeling connected as I recall each of them.
I’m not entirely sure what kind of grandfather I appear to be to my own grand daughters, but I hope they feel the love when they think of me decades from now. I’ve been pretty lucky to have many good examples of grandparenting around me, including my in-laws and my own parents. A couple of weeks ago, my oldest grand daughter and I surprised my wife by putting a birdhouse up outside the window where she often sits with the girls. I wasn’t shooting to make a memory, but I might have anyway.
None of this really relates to the folks in the SUV in Florida. Essentially, I had squandered a morning’s readings of some very creative ladies and gentlemen to be lured by the garish headlines of idiotic behavior. It might have been a total loss, had I not jogged my memories of those four grandparents of my own.
It’s a shame what passes for grandparents in some quarters these days.