My Grammy is 93. She’s sharp as a tack, lives independently in Florida, still drives and wears as much bling as my 9-year-old. I saw her this week for Passover and my dad’s 70th birthday party. Every time I see her she’s dividing up her stuff.
“Jor, your mom gets the good stemware, but I’m giving the dishes to your sister because her kitchen color scheme is blue.” “I gave you the silver candlesticks, but the jewelry… the good stuff is going to both my daughters-in-law and then it’s their problem to divide it up between you girls when I’m gone.”
Oy. I’m not interested in her stuff … yet. (The jewelry is really beautiful.) What I wanted from her was information, secrets, wisdom, knowledge.
I asked a lot of questions, and she did her best to be evasive, self-deprecating, demure, and blow me off. When you’re born in 1920 there is a lot of stuff you don’t remember today, but she knew I wouldn’t give up. For four days I asked, re-phrased, inquired and prodded.
I squeezed the stories of how my Poppy proposed. He didn’t really, her mom said it was time, so they got married. Anticlimactic.
What trouble my dad and his identical twin (turning 70 next month) got in together. She said they were good boys. Boring.
What was the secret to her first 39-year marriage, and her next 25-year one. (Both husbands died.) No secret, just feed the man’s ego. Not the answer I wanted to hear … but sadly her truth.
Any regrets Gram? “Yes, one. That I didn’t get my college degree.”
In 1935 — she finished high school in 3 years, a smart cookie — a college degree was available to her, but her mother encouraged her to take a job as a secretary and just get married. Yes, regrettable.
My Grammy worked as a secretary her whole life, did yoga in the 70s before it was cool, raised two great sons, traveled the world (she has the jewelry to prove it), was the only person to give me the “sex talk,” and had two successful marriages.
Now she has five grandchildren and 11 greats, as she calls them. She is amazing. So what does 93 have to tell 40? After 93 years, she must know what we as a society are doing wrong or right. Or as a mother how I’m screwing up, or doing well with my kids. C’mon Gram, give it up.
Here’s what she told me. “Get everything in writing.” Unfulfilling, but true. This, from a woman who wanted to see the financials of every boy we brought home. Smart cookie.
Until the last day, when we were all packed up, leaving for the airport. She looked at me and said, “Stop worrying so much about making the right decisions. You already know what to do, you already have all the answers. Trust yourself.”
Keep the jewelry Gram, you just gave me everything I could ever need. Thank you. I love you.