Thursday, February 03, 2005

My Flatulent Grammy

My grandmother's name was Hildur. Grammy passed away in 1993 at the age of 93. I think of her often. I remember her to be kind, generous, loving. The year I turned 13, she finally quit addressing my birthday cards to "Master Ricky Seaberg". When my grandfather, her husband Ed, passed away while they were here in Oregon on a visit many years ago, Grammy moved out here. She and my Dad lived in the same apartment complex in Lake Grove, Oregon. My sister and brother-in-law helped her move many of her belongings out here from Chicago, and from Florida where they had a second home. I inherited a lovely couch of Gram's, now in storage, which Marie and I are going to have recovered soon. It is one of those gorgeous lion-footed stylish old couches. But Grammy left us more than things. She left us memories.

As my folks and Gram grew older, my sisters and I took turns caring for them, (fixing Dad's lawnmover was one of my yearly tasks). My mother had gone to a nursing home, in Portland, so we went to see her regularly. Gram's health held out over both my Mom and Dad, who predeceased her. So for years, we would take Grammy places, to dinner, to a Portland Trailblazers basketball game, a concert, go over to play cards, take her shopping. My contribution was usually in the form of taking Grammy to dinner. I tried to mix it up, taking her to new and different places, but not too different. She was sort of a meat and potatoes gal. Mostly, we would just enjoy each other's company, chat about everything, business, family, but I will say she preferred to keep the conversation light. Once, when I attempted to discuss a divorce I was going through, her eyes sort of glazed over as if to say, " no more please. Don' wanna go there". Of course, as the years wore on, Gram would tell me stories of people that she had heard from in Chicago or Florida, e.g., "Did you know that Bert and Terry Lundquist are spending their winters in Havasu City these days?", as if I knew her friends as well as she, though I really had no idea who she was talking about. But I would engage, and for the most part, those times, just the two of us, as she passed 80, and then 85, and then 90, were precious.

One little teeny thing though, for your reading pleasure, was a bit tedious and trying when it came to dining with Grammy. First of all, may I mention that Gram was quite hard of hearing. She claimed that it was from when a gun went off right by her ear in some wild west show she had attended while vacationing. It was more likely a medical problem, but as a devout Christian Scientist, all her life, well, let's just say she wouldn't for a minute consider such a thing.

So I always thought that her hearing might have been at least a bit at fault for Gram's, well, non-chalant farting. I mean, sitting there with her at the white tablecloth, enjoying my Beaujolais, rolling the wine in the glass a bit, savoring it's elegant fragrance and then.....RRRRRRRRRRippppppppppp! She would look at you, with the sweetest little smile, as if nothing had happened. I have this horrible fear that if I ever lose my hearing, from say, cranking up the headphones when I am recording, a similar fate will befall my dear children. But I guess one could see how it could happen. Even if you could feel it coming, and going, if you can't hear it, you might think no one noticed.

Once, as we ordered our Sole and Chateaubriand, from a sweet and helpful waitress at a fine restaurant, the fireworks began. I am not talking a putt. I am talking tear-ass creeper. I am talking a very, very long, loud, outstanding crackle of passing gas, halted, and then repeated. The kind you might find on a website featuring fart sounds for download. The waitress gets a look on her face like she is shocked but refrains from any other action or statement. She remains calm. I, on the other hand, am between "my most embarrassing moment", and bursting out laughing. Thankfully, we made it through the rest of our order without further mishap.

And it wasn't always a problem. Just occasionally. But that can be a bit of a drawback, the inconsistency, I mean, 'cause when it happens, you are never ready for it.

But after Gram turned 90, I could count on her every time. Before, during, after. I became less and less affected, more and more just plain happy to be with her and sharing time with her, hearing her stories.

But one last issue, if I may. The leaving the restaurant part, after the meal, now that was a doozy. I would help my dear and more frail Gram to her feet, and we would wind and wend throught the restaurant, past tables of diners, toward the front door. Grammy had become quite slow, and unsteady, and occasionally, she would even reach over to a table of diners to steady herself, while holding my arm with her other hand. And all the while, and this is the absolute truth, offering up monster loud wind breakage, just about eyeball high if you are a diner in a booth, and still smiling cutely at the patrons as she passed by.

I miss my Gram, and all my elders. When you love someone as much as I loved my Gram, and she has, oh, a wee bit of a flatulence problem, you learn to not give a damn what other people think. Life is just too short to be anal.

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