Mother Goose

GrandmomA few days ago, my aunt walked out of her bedroom and asked her ninety-one year old mother (my grandmom) whether she looked fat in the dress she was wearing.

My grandmother – tiny, bent, fluttery in the hands, Sicilian, old-aged mellow, a woman who would fit perfectly as Friend #2 on The Golden Girls – looked at her and said, “You want fact or tact?”

Conversation. Over.

Contrary to most of my family, my grandmother is level-headed and cool. She doesn’t get bent out of shape as quickly as the rest of us, and doesn’t have the same instant overreaction that the rest of us do (read: panic and/or rage). If a tornado ripped the roof off the house she would turn to one of us and say, “Pass the phone, please.”

Maybe it’s because she has seen it all. She raised seven kids, has dealt with forty years of grandchildren and great-grandchildren and kept her cool throughout. Like many of your grandparents she has seen ten decades of drama. She’s lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the 60s, the film Xanadu, Parachute pants, and Lady Gaga.

But while World War II and the Great Depression might be a chapter from a history book for you and me, for her it’s context. It’s a barometer to which daily stresses and struggles are measured. So when someone whines that they’re hungry (aka: me), she smiles and thinks, I remember that summer in 1936 when we had to eat wood chips, but sure I’ll make you a snack between your first and second lunches.

And then she does.

My grandmom is from another time, part of a classic age that is all but forgotten. Her generation knew how to dress, act, work, and succeed. Not talk, do. Though I have no idea if it’s accurate, I occasionally imagine her and my grandfather drinking martinis and smoking unfiltered cigarettes in a ritzy ballroom. Now, the most she’ll do is a surreptitious gulp of red wine as three generations of her family dangle on her last nerve, begging for ravioli and meatballs. Her mantra: If I got through McCarthyism, I will not stab one of my family members.

She is a tough old bird.

She has stories. She’d tell me over cinnamon toast and eggs or while we flattened pizza dough at her kitchen table. She swears to have seen ghosts. She once met Ronald Reagan. To be honest, my entire being prays that “met” is not 1940s slang for “a drunken grope in a coatroom with a B actor and future president.” Once, while visiting after she had open heart surgery, I asked how she was feeling. She replied, “Good enough to drop you in a boxing match.” And we laughed as she cast fidgety glances at her watch, waiting for that Wheel of Fortune. Then told me to quiet down for Pat Sajak.

She’s our matriarch, a cool old dame, and the best Grandmom a dude could ask for. And since today we are supposed to think about the bad ass moms in our lives, I’ll drink a martini, maybe watch a little of that Wheel of Fortune and thank our Mother Goose for always showing us how it’s supposed to be done.

And when I call her, I will beg her for ravioli and meatballs in July.

  1. #1 by greg galeone on August 9, 2014 - 6:57 am

    great post Damo.

  2. #2 by leslie donovan on August 29, 2014 - 7:17 pm

    I love this post.

    • #3 by Damien Galeone on August 29, 2014 - 7:29 pm

      Yes, well, I love you. So we’re all set!

      • #4 by leslie donovan on August 29, 2014 - 7:33 pm

        *blush* Love you too, Hawkeye.

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