When I was born, three of my four grandparents were alive. It was only a couple of years ago when that changed. So I’ve been very lucky to know most of my grandparents for over 30 years. Not a lot of people are that blessed.
My dad’s mother was Granny. She went by Peg in everyday life, even though her name was Celeste (also my niece’s name). Granny was a spitfire – she never hesitated to let you know exactly what she was thinking! (She also seemed to have a thing about her father-in-law, Charlie, which made me laugh, but never when she could see or hear me. She and Charlie must have been like oil and water. I can only imagine.) Granny also made a wicked vodka martini. I never got one, as she stopped drinking before I was old enough to imbibe. My brother, on the other hand, came home from her place more than once with a pretty healthy buzz going. From Granny I get my love of word puzzles and words in general. She worked the crossword puzzle every day, and in fact, was working on one the morning she passed away. My dad talked to my granny almost every day, as he was driving home from work.
My mom’s mother is Grama, or GG (short for either Grama Grant or Great Grama). I like how that sounds. Gram spent the week after Christmas with my folks, Amy, and me up at the Dome. While her first name is Margaret, my grandfather used to call her Muggs. When we were at the Dome, I stumbled across some letters that she’d written to my grandfather when he was a POW and she was a new bride in Minneapolis with a newborn (my mom). I confess that I cried to think of the fear and anxiety she kept out of those letters, but must have felt profoundly, not knowing when he was coming home. One of my favorite things about my Gram is her love of travel. She and my grandfather traveled all over the world when he was alive, and after he passed away, she kept on traveling with her kids. I think it’s one of the many things that keeps her so young. From my Gram, I got my night-owl tendencies, as well as a love of fiction.
My mom’s dad, my grandfather, was nicknamed Bumps when my brother, the first grandchild, couldn’t say grampa. He used to say Bumpa, and that morphed. Everyone knew him as Bumps. A tall, strapping man with capital-P Presence, you knew when Bumps came into the room. He shaved his hair off at some point before I came along, so he was always completely bald. Fortunately, he had a really nicely shaped head. He used to offer his grandkids a nickel a minute for shining his head or scratching his back. If you think about it, that was $3/hour, which isn’t a bad rate for child labor… Just kidding! We always got bored after a minute or two. Bumps could tell stories like it was no one’s business. I remember the first day he really told the story of his POW experience. It was at the Dome, shortly after we’d moved, and he quietly sat at the dining room table and started talking. Soon, 10 or 12 of us were huddled around, with rapt attention, for the next 3 hours. My cousin Jason had the foresight to get him on videotape a few years later, telling the same story, shortly before he passed away. Amazing. From my Bumps, I got my goofy sense of humor, and the ability to play gin (NOT gin rummy, though).
I never knew my dad’s father Red (Marvin), but found a few photos of him when we were going through photos for my Granny’s funeral. I know where my dad gets his height (me too!) and I bet my legs look like his did. My uncle’s oldest boy looks a lot like him, and he and his brothers and grandsons definitely got the hunting gene from him!
How blessed I have been, to have known most of my grandparents well into my adulthood. What about you? Do you know your grandparents? What are/were they like?