I did not know her as well as others but she knew me better than most. Her name was Grandma or Grandma Margaret, no other name was allowed. Her word was law and her law was enforced swiftly.
Respect was always demanded by her but given willingly because no matter how much you hated her as you rubbed a newly red area, you still loved her. Take it from a 7th grader who had to get a checkup for school, had to strip down to my underwear, and she walks in because they were short staffed that day. I thought I was too old to strip in front of her. The smack I got proved me wrong. She let me know that I was never too old to get smacked for being disrespectful.
Part of her law was that she controlled the television. At certain times of the day, even if she was in another room, the TV had to be on certain shows because she could still hear it, no matter what she was doing. Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and the news were non-negotiable. At least we could learn something from watching the boob tube.
She also had her fun side. The California Lottery, Married with Children, and Cops were all okay to watch but her true vice was wrestling. WHOOOOO! That’s right, Nature Boy Ric Flair was one of her favorites and the fire he generated when he was in the ring consumed us all. The more he bled the better the excitement that filled us all.
She was always firm, attempting to make you a better person, while doing what all grandparents do, slightly spoiling you whenever she could.
Being a nurse in a hospital, large paperback novels were abundant and she never said you can read it when you’re older. Reading the newspaper was encouraged and if you did not read it yourself she would read you articles she felt was relevant.
If the weather was good, meaning it was not raining, unless you were doing homework you needed to go outside and play. To this day, I still think it was an excuse to kick us out of the house so the adults could have some kind of peace of mind, however brief it may be.
The poem Footprints was always somewhere in the house, usually in the restroom, so that you would read it over and over and never forget that you are never alone.
She had her plants and that was the one thing you never messed with. If you did, you knew you were getting the chancla, if you were lucky, or the belt, depending on how badly you messed up her plants.
She was a speed demon in her little red bug. We could hear her coming from blocks away and as a kid, sliding around in the back seat, being thrown into the side of the bug from centrifugal force, was the best thing ever. My head slammed into the window a time or two but it was worth it for that need for speed. I, myself, am a spawn of that speed demon, and when I begin to chase that speed, the same grin comes across my face that I use to love seen on hers.
She was a tiny lady but the love she had to give was bigger than giants. She had many grandchildren and great grandchildren and each child was special to her. She knew what they needed and she was not afraid to tell her children how to take care of her grandchildren.
My aunts would say I was difficult to shop for because I did not like a lot of things. She used to say I was very simple yet very complex, always calling me “simply complex.” Despite that, she always knew if it pertained to Star Wars, Aviation, or books, including comic books, that was all I needed.
She use to send my mother money for me to spend every time there was a book fair at school. She use to send me books that no one wanted anymore from the hospital, filling my personal library with Robin Cook, Tom Clancy, and Michael Crichton books. She made sure I was never without something to read.
As an adult, I take all of these and many other memories with me everywhere I go. She molded me into the man I am today and who I tried to make my child to be. I can still hear her harsh soft voice, feel her firm tender touch every time life hits me hard.
I may be one of many, but she did her one true job, to make sure I could survive whatever life throws my way. To know I have to do what needs to be done, but no matter what, she will always love me
She touched many lives in her own way. No matter who were are, each of us have our own special memories of her. These were mine.
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