Archive | November, 2008

Grandma Voted for Obama!

17 Nov

"My vote won't count because I'm not in Illinois."


At this point in her life it’s really hard to impress Grandma by relating the historical significance of any one particular event. A glance back at some of the things she’s seen, experienced and endured it makes sense. The elation they experienced on V-Day, seeing a man walk on the moon, shit, she can’t believe that I can take her virtual shopping on for those beloved jog suits of hers, so in her world, I’ll give her that electing a black man to the presidency isn’t the most impressive thing she’s ever witnessed. But for me, it was huge and a personal triumph of sorts.

Grandma is 88 years old and has to be cut a considerable amount of slack when it comes to her views on race. Jamie and I considered it a huge achievement when we were able to convince to her stop referring to African-Americans as Colored people. We know exactly how far to push any particular issue, so we are satisfied that she now says black. The PC term African-American is never going to happen and we accept that.

Grandma is and always has been a Democrat. That being said, she is the most conservative Democrat you’d ever meet. Socially speaking. She’s never met a government program that she couldn’t get behind, provided that it benefited her, but in the late 80’s and early 90’s she was seriously swayed by some of the divisive Republican arguments circling around so called Welfare Mothers and like issues. She watches Fox news incessantly, so I was worried some of that William Ayers, Rev. Wright stuff might rub off on her. Turns out those worries were unfounded.

Me: Okay Grandma, what’s it going to be? Who are you voting for?

Grandma: I guess I’m going to have to vote for the Color..-black guy, Osama.

*head desk*

Me: Obama Grandma. His name is Barack Obama.

Grandma: Whatever.

Me: Why are you voting for him Grandma?

Grandma: Because he’s smarter than the rest of them.

And so we went to vote. Well, first we fought it out. She insisted that since she owns a home in Illinois, she is an Illinois resident and she should vote by absentee ballot. I assured her that she was, in fact, a North Carolina resident, having changed her address and physical situation to North Carolina. I pressed the issue further by showing her mail from both the Social Security Administration and Medicare in her name at her North Carolina address. She insisted, an when I say insisted I mean yelled, that ‘IF YOU OWN PROPERTY IN ONE STATE YOU MUST VOTE THERE!’, and I hesitated briefly because, giving her full credit for knowing what in the hell she’s talking about, she may have lived through a period when that was the case. In any event, I prevailed. We left for the voting station.

We parked and made our way to the end of the two hour line. We were early voting in North Carolina in record turn out and in need of re-registering her. She was absolutely going to vote that day. She’d brought with her the following: her birth certificate (1920, the original. How damn impressive is that?), her marriage certificate (1938, again, stunning), her most recent bank statement, her Medicare card, and to her credit, a Power of Attorney showing me as her legal representative. She held everything in a folder in her lap and was set to wait her turn. Thankfully, an extremely dedicated poll worker approached us and suggested that she proceed to a special area for those not physically able to wait in line, which we did.

The poll worker then brought one of the electronic voting machines curbside and reviewed the process with Grandma. Grandma stood with the aid of her walker and asked me to steady her shaky hand as she touched the name of her candidate. BARACK OBAMA lit green with a check mark. She sat back down in her wheel chair, a tear slipped down my cheek and we thanked the poll worker. The sun came out, we took this picture, and Grandma said on election night as we watched the returns as a family:

“Looks like I won.”

A moment passed and she said, “Well, really, we all won.”

I can’t say it any better than that.


Ways in Which Grandma Tries to Make Jamie Insane

3 Nov

Technically this post title could be used over and over, but for today’s purposes we’re going to use it in reference to Grandma’s love of doing a mental inventory of her home in Illinois. She lived there for over 40 years and the entirety of our lives. In the 40 year plus span of time, things rarely, rarely ever moved.  Pretty much the only things that moved were small appliances that gave up their lives in the line of service to Grandma, but they were never truly shed or discarded, just relocated to the basement (or coal bin-another post entirely), as if placing them there would have some sort of healing effect that they may one day be returned to service. As a child of the Great Depression, rule number one is and was, never throw anything away. Or Waste Not Want Not, or some other old person saying.

So nothing in the house moves, as I’ve established. For instance, in the top kitchen drawer there is and always has been the following: a pair of scissors that should really be in some sort of scissor museum. They date to her wedding to my Grandpa, again a testament to the times, that one would offer something as mundane as a pair of scissors as a wedding gift. The hinges are rusty and they couldn’t cut hot butter, but alas, there they are. A flatware tray which contains no less than 6 different patterns. Grandma was Shabby Chic way early. Grandpa, early in his career, before joining the Navy, rode the back of a garbage truck in St. Louis. They’d make the rounds of hotels in St. Louis in the wee morning hours and I have no doubt half of these forks and knives were pulled from the trash. Jamie’s baby spoon. Jamie was born in 1969, but should she ever revert back to not being able to feed herself, we’re covered there. Lastly, an address book. This used to be a great source of entertainment for Grandma and also helpful to us. Ever had to fill out a credit ap requiring the last 5 years of addresses and find you can’t remember? Well, if your Grandma is like ours, no problem. While we relied on it for memory back up, she used it to torture us with hard proof of our inherent gypsiness. A quote: “You girls never hold still long enough to get anything done! Just look how many times you’ve moved! TN, FL, NJ, CT, NC….I was born in one house and moved here when I got married. You girls don’t know if you’re coming or going. No wonder…”

No word as to what the ‘No wonder’ was referencing.

If you were patient enough to read the about section, you’ll know that Grandma is now several states from her home. She uses her down time (all day every day) to do a running inventory of the things she’d like to have or may have need of from her home as further evidence that we are #1) keeping her from her shit, #2) incapable of caring for her because we lack…, #3) wasting money by purchasing ‘x’ because she has a perfectly good ‘x’ at home.

Case in point. Last year I gave Jamie a roaster for Christmas. Join me for the gift exchange and Grandma commentary:

Me: I hope you’ll use it.

Jamie: Oh, I so will! This is cool dude. It can even do a turkey!

Grandma: Why is it red? I have a perfectly good roater in the basement. Stacey? Did you take my roaster? Is it still there?

Me: Where Grandma?


Me: Probably, unless the rampant thefts of roasters is still ongoing in Fairview Heights….

Grandma: Well that’s a waste of money. I have a perfectly good roaster. You should have taken it when you came to get me.

Me: Right Grandma. Me, you, a walker, a wheel chair and the roaster going through security at the airport. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Jamie: I’m going to refresh my drink. Any body else need a drink?

Jamie gets to play, “Don’t I have…or, Do I still have my….?”, no less than 10 times a day. Grandma has all. Looking for a rubber band? Well, I keep a baggie of rubber bands in the top drawer… Out of paper towels? I keep two extra rolls in the basement. WD-40? Tire gauge? Sewing kit? Spare part for the Hubble Telescope?

Damn it Grandma, we get it. You have a perfectly good one at home. We are no good, gypsy wastrels. We don’t know the value of a dollar. But we’ll spend every last one of our’s taking care of you. And when I go clean out the house next month, you can bet your ass, I’m grabbing that roaster.