I was about 7 when I spent my first ever one-on-one quality time with grandma on my mom's side. At least, that's the first time I remember having quality one-on-one time with her. My family was visiting her in her small farm town on the Mexican border in southern California in the house where my mom finished high school.
Grandma ("Nonna") was only 60 at the time. I can't believe that's true. I just had to use a calculator to verify because that seemed so impossible to me. In my mind, she was always this little old lady, and 60 is not old to me anymore.
Anyway, we had been at a family party one night in the small farm town when my grandpa showed up. My grandparents were divorced long ago and my grandpa had done some bad things over the years and he wasn't a particularly pleasant person to be around. I was a small child so I was relatively unaware of what was happening, but looking back I can fill in some blanks and see that it was decided by my grandma and the other adults that she would head home pretty shortly after he arrived.
I had been fighting with a cousin who was a few years older than me and I really didn't want to be at the family party anymore either. My mom must have noticed that because I was suddenly being sent out to my grandma's car, arm-in-arm, to head back to grandma's house. Two buddies who were breaking away from a party early to go have our own party.
We went back to her house, popped some popcorn, put on a movie, and snuggled on the couch together. The movie was Sister Act. I had never seen it. For the next two hours or so, we laughed together, and munched on the popcorn, and made a memory that we would reference regularly for decades to come.
From the time I was a small child all the way to now, I have wondered how I could be more like my grandma. I think she may actually be a perfect person. She is eternally patient and kind. She has been terribly mistreated at various times in her life, but she seems to have no guile for anyone. She is independent but totally selfless. And she has an enviable sense of humor.
In my 20s I started traveling with grandma. She was in her 70s by this point. She wandered south and central America and many parts of Europe. In 2008 my sister Krishelle, my uncle Will, and I took her to the middle east to see Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, or "The Holy Land" as she called it. It was a highlight of my life to wander those narrow streets, arm-in-arm with her, while we shared this incredible adventure together.
One night on that trip we accidentally ended up in the middle of nowhere in northern Israel at midnight. We had to take a two or three-hour taxi ride to get to Jerusalem. We sat in the back of the taxi, grandma in the middle, while she told us ghost stories. If I made a list of moments from my life I'd like to live over and over again, that one would be right toward the top.
In the decade since, my grandma and I have stayed close. She has periodically sent me cute emails or texts just to tell me she loved me and say she wishes I would come visit so we could watch Sister Act again. Her email address handle is conniecrochet (her name is Connie). It may be the most grandma handle to ever be on the internet.
I've had people ask me about my very Mormon grandparents and how they've reacted to finding out I'm gay and marrying a man. My grandma met Skylar last summer. When she did, she gave him a big hug and then stood with him, arm-in-arm, for quite a long time, asking all about him. She's never been anything other than perfectly wonderful. I wish more people could see how simple that is--to just be wonderful.
My grandma is 89 now, and still blessed with good health. This weekend I visited her in her little farm town on the border of Mexico. On Saturday she walked into the same room where we snuggled and watched Sister Act nearly 30 years ago. She was holding a box and said she had a present for me. It was a blanket she had crocheted for me and Skylar as a wedding present.
She grabbed my wrist, looked into my eyes, and said very seriously, "I want you to know I put love in every single stitch for you and Skylar."
I'm sorry she isn't everyone's grandma.
And now, please enjoy some Strangerville.
This time in Strangerville, Meg asks Eli very intrusive questions about his family planning, plus a conversation with the Utah symphony.SegmentBats, by Conner Gray Covington Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter
~It Just Gets Stranger