Let’s All Call Our Grandmothers Today
If, of course (big if!) we are lucky enough that they are still around. Grandfathers too. Or even just our parents, I don’t even do that enough either! Casey N. Cep wrote this beautiful thing for Pacific Standard about the general neglect of the elderly that made that Roger Angell essay hit so hard for so many people, and she starts by describing her maternal grandmother, the only one still alive when she was born:
She was, in the way grandparents are meant to be, a living encyclopedia of years I’d only ever read about in history books. She grew up during the Great Depression and could recall in rich detail when Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for humankind; she could remember using outhouses and riding to town by horse-drawn wagon. Her hobbies in the years I knew her were playing bingo and looking through photographs of her seven children and 21 grandchildren; in my lifetime, she had knees replaced and arteries cleared, walked first with a cane, and then with a walker.
I have photographs of her, but also, because a few years before she died I bought a digital camera that was capable of making short videos, a little film of her talking to me. It’s only 20 seconds long, but it can, no matter how many times I watch it, bring me to tears. There’s the excitement in my voice as I start recording too soon: “OK, go!” And then her hurried tenderness because I wasn’t sure how long a recording I could make with the small memory card: “Casey, when you go to college, don’t forget that you have a grandmother that loves you. You be sure and write to her, and remember to pray for her. I love you very much.”
She also discusses the enduring popularity of Golden Girls, and the whole piece is lovely; read the rest of it here.