Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Ruby Tuesday: Valentines Past
I needed inspiration, so I found Ruby Tuesday. I then went on a brief hunt around the house and found those red hearts. They're on a Valentine's Day card my paternal grandfather gave my grandmother many moons ago (there's no date in the card, so I can't be certain of exactly how old it is).
That card sits on a shelf in my hallway. While my grandmother passed away long before I was born, I've been told I remind people of her. My mother swears my grandmother would have loved me.
My grandfather was an alcoholic. Both of them were actually. My mother's father drank himself to death (literally. He died of liver cancer alone in a pauper's hospital). My father's father straightened himself up and was sober for many years.
I've heard my mother rave about how my paternal grandmother suffered through her husband's alcoholism without a complaint. My mom always seemed to think this was ideal. I, however, never liked that one bit. My goal is to elicit change, not sit by placidly like a good little girl with my hands folded neatly in my lap.
Old photos of my grandmother show a lively spirit and quirky sense of humor that always spoke to me. I absolutely see myself in those examples. But the quiet little complacent wife? Not so much.
Then, my father (whose collection of family stories is unending) told me a tale that helped endear me to my grandmother more than ever before. Apparently, my grandfather and one of his brothers decided to play a trick on my grandmother. Quite some time after grandpa stopped drinking, he and my great uncle came staggering home pretending to be drunk. When my grandmother saw and heard them heading down the walk, she grabbed a baseball bat and chased them away, swearing the whole time and refusing to let them near the house if they'd been drinking.
Now THAT I can absolutely see myself doing. And I suspect that is a more accurate picture of my grandmother.
FTR, my grandparents were madly in love until the end. She saved some of her wedding flowers pressed in a memory book. She had a hope chest full of cards he had given her over the years. The first morning after they were married, he took a picture of the first meal she ever made for him. He photographed her often and in all those images, the love and awe he felt for her is obvious. More than 30 years after they were married, she suffered a heart attack while dancing in his arms and she died.