I can still remember the lipstick stains on the cigarette butts. She was beautiful. Her make-up was always perfect, her hair curled, and her nails were always polished. She was my very feisty, crude, chain-smoking grandmother – my mother’s mother.
There was no stop sign between the thoughts in her head and her tongue. If she thought it, she said it, and let the hair go with the hide. She was the queen of the backhanded compliment.
She’d been through hell in her lifetime, I suppose. Her first husband beat the hell out of her on the regular. She divorced him and later married my granddad. He was a salesman and a fall down drunk. And funny and kind. He let us jump on her couch when she wasn’t there which got us all into trouble.
For some reason, I’m guessing because she loved him, she stayed with him. Or maybe it’s because she’d already been divorced once and didn’t want another under her belt. This was the good old days when such things were shameful. He never laid a hand on her, so maybe she thought that was as good as it got. At least she wasn’t having a near death experience every day.
I can’t remember if he lost his license because of his drinking or if she took his keys so he couldn’t drive drunk. She worked two and sometimes three jobs waitressing to pay the bills. I don’t think she could count on grandpa for that. She worked at a restaurant just down the street from their house and he’d show up on the riding mower, embarrassing her I’m sure, for a cup of joe to sober up.
She never went to church that I know of and I’m not sure of her beliefs. She was pretty cynical about church in general.
When she was in her seventies she was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. My aunt talked her into undergoing chemotherapy treatments to prolong her life a little. She’d already lost her best friend(my mother) and couldn’t bear the thought of losing grandma. So grandma relented and took the treatments. That landed her in the hospital a fair few times with pneumonia and other chemo-related illnesses.
While I was there at the hospital for a visit one day a man of the cloth came by and asked if he could pray with her. I’ll never forget what she said.
“Hell no! You have never darkened the door of my house. You didn’t give a good goddamn about me when I was in good health, don’t come around here when I’m dying wanting to pray with me. Get out! Don’t let the doorknob hit you where the good lord split you!”
He left to the sounds of her murmuring the like. After I picked my jaw up off the floor I asked why the man couldn’t just pray with her.
“God nor him ever did anything for me in this life. I’m for damn sure not expecting anything now!”
May 21, 2014 at 9:21 am
I think I would have liked her! Not the fags (cigarettes) or even the make-up and immaculate hair, but I have enjoyed wicked scarlet nails many a time 🙂
But seriously. How honest and ballsy. Good on ‘er.
May 21, 2014 at 9:24 am
She had the biggest set of anyone I ever knew! 😉 Nobody ever had to wonder where they stood with her.
In a Southern culture, where everything is always so nicey-nice, she would be considered a bitch. Really, she was just so very frank. Life is way too short to beat around the bush.
May 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm
Where I come from in the UK (Yorkshire) we are often called blunt. Not too different it suspect.
May 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm
It? I meant I !,
May 21, 2014 at 3:25 pm
I read what you meant. 😀
Blunt, yes. She had a very sharp tongue.
May 21, 2014 at 9:28 am
May 21, 2014 at 9:29 am
Damn good woman, JZ!
May 21, 2014 at 9:53 am
That was such a well written tale. The real life ones are so often the best.
May 21, 2014 at 10:19 am
Thanks, Ark. Those seem to be the ones I do best.
May 21, 2014 at 10:42 am
She said it so well Ruth! I feel the same. 😀
Such a pity there’s not more like her in this world of ours. You can trust people like that. They say what needed to be said and don’t care what others think. She sure had the right attitude. My mom was like that too and most of it rubbed off on me. It doesn’t let me make friends easy but I like being a loner. I like my smokes as well and don’t care what others think. It’s my money and I work hard for it. The nails and hair won’t last with my housework, so I keep both short. hahahaha. But the mouth stays – that is if someone wants trouble. Such a pity about the cancer and I am sorry for your loss.
Thanks for sharing this lovely memory with us. 😀 ♥ Hugs ♥
May 22, 2014 at 8:58 am
The nails and hair won’t last with my housework, so I keep both short. hahahaha.
Oh, please! I saw your picture. You’re gorgeous, lady! 😀
I like people who are comfortable in their own skin. I don’t mind my own company either. There are lots of people who need lots of friends. But they’re more like acquaintances. I have just a few real friends and I love them dearly.
I wish I had gotten more of her devil-may-care, I’ll say what I want, attitude. I’m more like that now than I’ve ever been but I really do wish I’d been somewhere in between the doormat I’ve been in the past and the prickly, cactus of a woman she was from the start.
May 23, 2014 at 12:38 am
You’re just so sweet and thanks for saying that. I only looked like that for the photo because hubby nagged me for one. LOL!
Same here. I am very sensitive to atmosphere and knows immediately when I am not welcome or when there’s something wrong. I am one of those who don’t need lots of friends. People tire me out. We also have only acquaintances here. All my other friends live in my computer. 😆
I always say what I want – sometimes it doesn’t come out the way that it was meant – especially in English – but when I speak my home language – Afrikaans – you will hear me clearly and with no misunderstandings. hahahah.
I grew up in a home where verbal abuse ruled and I quickly learned to stand up for myself. Sometimes we need people like that to teach us that is okay to stand up for yourself. I have no respect for people who break down others just to make themselves feel good and will hurt them badly with a smile. 😈 I am glad you are more like your grandmother now. You have every right to be the person that you want to be. We must be the kind of person that we like – not what other people like. 😀
♥ Hugs ♥
May 21, 2014 at 11:45 am
Thats very sad, im sorry.
May 22, 2014 at 8:58 am
May 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm
She’s alive through you. That was such a well written story, Ruth. Would love to have seen the look on that guys face when she gave him a piece of her mind. She let him see her set of ovaries. No doubt he thought she would burn in hell. Thanks for sharing.
May 22, 2014 at 9:00 am
Heh! He offered to come back when she was more receptive. I think he thought she was out of her mind on meds. hahahaha
She informed him that was a warm reception. If he didn’t like that one he might not want to come back.
May 22, 2014 at 9:12 am
May 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm
Riveting prose, from the first line.
May 22, 2014 at 9:01 am
Wow! High praise from the master of prose, himself. Thanks, Matt!
May 22, 2014 at 9:06 am
Well, I meant it – you locked me in from the first line. 🙂
May 21, 2014 at 2:54 pm
May 22, 2014 at 9:01 am
May 22, 2014 at 9:22 am
Glad to pay compliments where they’re due. Not only on the way your wrote it, but also in celebrating your badass grandma!
I do sometimes worry a little that people of that caliber are sadly disappearing over time. Raised from a different time with a different perspective than any of us could ever attain and with more grit than any person half their age.
Lucky you for having been so close to one!
May 22, 2014 at 9:27 am
Haha! She was definitely not the doting little blue hair! She was an amazing lady.
May 21, 2014 at 4:13 pm
I don’t who to compliment first, you for telling the story so nicely and your grandma for a giving a straight and honest answer.
You are a good story teller!
May 22, 2014 at 9:02 am
Heh, my grandma was a spitfire, for sure!
Thanks for reading along.
May 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm
My catholic grandmother died late last year. She was about 97, so she definitely had a very long life. All here three children rejected their catholic faith before I was born, so there were very few catholics in her funeral. The priest gave a homily over her closed casket. He had a huge smile on his face, he walked to my uncle (grandmom’s oldest son) and told him not to worry – grandmom was up in heaven, running around and playing as if she were a little girl. I can almost guarantee, while there were Christians there at the funeral, not a person there believed a word of the priest’s fantasy vision of grandmom. Certainly, definitely, not my uncle. What is worse to do at a funeral – listen to a priest telling us that an old woman we all loved was prancing in a field of flowers up in heaven, or calling him on his bullshit? Since neither is really appropriate, we all just clamed up and waited for the thing to be over.
May 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm
HS, I was reminded of my Nana’s funeral. I was very close to my grandmother. She was 96 when she died. We did not have a priest at the funeral, even though most family members that attended were Catholic. Instead, after the service (which was at the funeral home), we asked all visitors (who were not really close to her) to leave. Family and close friends sat in a circle, and for two+ hours, we shared what Genevieve meant to us. We shared stories. We laughed, we cried, and laughed some more. It was the most amazing funeral I’ve ever attended. We celebrated her life. None of this BS that she’s up in heaven tiptoeing through the tulips.
May 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm
My dad wasn’t really religious at all, that I know of. Still, thirty years down the road, it kind of makes me sick to my stomach that the preacher turned his funeral into an evangelical opportunity. And I loved the preacher.
I wish we had done what Victoria’s family did at her grandmother’s funeral. It would have been better to just go around telling stories and celebrating his life.