My Dad grew up not knowing his true parents. All I know of my real grandfather on his side was my middle name was my true grandfathers name and I remember visiting his grave when I was young in Nebraska.
Glenn and Mabel were all my dad knew as his parents. They adopted him and guided him through life. Glenn was a barber and lives in a VA retirement center in Nebraska. But this story isn’t about Glenn.
It’s about Grandma Green…
When I was about seven or eight, Mom and Dad took us up to Nebraska to see Grandma and Grandpa Green. When I walked into the house, it just smelled old. I tried to make a nose at the air of old, musty smell but Mom wouldn’t let me say anything.
“Be Nice,” she would tell me as I giggled at Grandma Green in her housecoat walking around the house. We’d always arrive in Omaha and drive the long drive to the middle of nowhere. My Dad’s Parents had this quaint little house in the middle of this small Nebraska town. They liked theit town in the middle of nowhere and I would look at the things that were simple back then.
They left their doors unlocked and sat out on the porch. Glenn would tell me storries and Mabel would just tell Glenn to stop scaring me and my brothers and sisters.
I would call him Glenn or Grandpa Glenn. I could call Grandma Mabel, or Grandma Green.
She had piss and vinegar running through her veins. But there was something that was going back then. It wasn’t her body, it wasn’t her spirit. It was definitely her mind.
I remember when I graduated High School she sent me a stuffed bear. Maybe because they didn’t have a lot of money and lived a simpler life. Maybe it was because she still thought of that little boy that was in her mind still 8 instead of eighteen. But I thanked her none the less and moved on with my life.
Unlike talking to my mom’s parents, talking to Glenn and Mabel were confined to holidays, where we would get oo the phone and thank Grandma for the unusual gifts she would send us. In the later years she would send money to dad and he would just buy us some cool thing and we would call her to thank her.
She would get the biggst kick out of those calls, but back to 1977 or so.
We were just about to move to Texas from New York and Grandma Green asked if we had any cowboy boots. I did not have any and off we went with Tara and Pat in hand to the store. She wanted us to have cowboy boots if we were going to move to Texas. “How can you be cowboys if you don’t look the part,” she said.
So we went off to the store and Grandma with her limited budget bought us all boots.
It was the nicest thing she had ever done for us. I can remember giving her such a nice hug and she thanked “Seany” for the nices hug.
We went back to her house with a smile in my face and knowing that even though she wasn’t my birth grandma that she was in my heart and hers my real grandma.
Before we left in the morning I woke up early and Grandma was up in her housecoat making us breakfast. Dad was telling her that he could cook for us but she would have nothing of it.
“Is this your kitchen Tommy? I don’t think so. Now let me cook for you. One day I won’t be there to cook for you and you live so far away… let me cook for you.”
So my Dad let her cook and she made us eggs and made us smile.
I can still remember the old smell of that house.
But the house was sold today, a couple of weeks ago Dad and Kiri made the trip up to see Glenn and Mabel and move them to a VA Assisted Living center.
They removed Forty , yes forty , thirty nine gallon trash bags from the house.
Like my other grandparents they had lived through the depression and were prepared with all sort of stuff that they had kept for years, old newspapers, TV dinner trays, amond other “surprises” like lime green leisure suits…
I knew that Mabel didn’t want to go into the “home” as she put it. She wanted to live on her own without any help.
But this morning I got the call. Grandma Green is gone. She died peacefully this morning at 7:20. I know no other information.
As yet another connection to my childhood disappears it reminds me and us of our own mortality. But Grandma Green, wouldn’t have any talk of it.
My Dad hadn’t been smoked since we left Cleveland in 88. But since Pat’s death he has taken it up again. I would rather him have a cigar or cigarette than have a drink.
When I talked to Mom this morning, she told me that Dad was outside looking at the sky smoking a cigar. He is glad he got to see her, say that he loved her and say goodbye. He even talked to her this weekend, she didn’t say much and told him that she loved him as he said it to her. Easter was the last time Dad talked to her.
Mabel? She’s just being herself, full of piss and vinegar, taking the Big Guy by the ear and telling her to watch over my dad and the family.
Because as weird as she was…
Her heart was full of love. She was 93.