A Visit From Grandma
From Today’s Daily Post Modern Families
I never had the pleasure of meeting my grandmother from my father’s side. He spoke of her so often, pretty much idolized her. She’d had a difficult life. Coming from Whales at the tender age of 19 and having just wed her husband, Charles, life began an ocean away from home with barely a few dollars in their pockets.
They took a ship to Canada carrying their clothes and their love. They both worked very hard, but being devout Catholics, soon Mary Ellen was pregnant with her first boy Charles.. then Thomas, James, Gerald and Finally Francis.
War called Grandpa overseas and Grandma became very ill with heart problems. She worked hard to raise her boys, but the stress of living in a tiny, wind-filled small flat in Toronto raising five boys was overwhelming. The boys had their own issues as well. Gerry had TB, James had been in a coma for quite some time.
Grandma Mary-Ellen’s heart gave in and she died at the young age of 42 in 1946.
I grew up listening to the tales that my father would tell about how beautiful she was, how she could play the harp like an angel, how she worked so hard at a thrift shop to provide for her boys. Being only 13 when she passed away, he always carried the best of memories about her, despite the poverty and hardships they had endured.
I have always felt a closeness to her, even though I’ve never met her. I guess partially due to how often my father would tell me how much alike we were in personality. I grew up longing to have known her, feeling a connection that surpassed time and circumstance and comforted me as I believed she watched over me from above.
I can picture her coming to visit for dinner.. she’d have the place of honour with us. It would be Tony and me with our six children from separate marriages. I think that would be easy to grasp as I think she would be filled with love. Then the “guys.. no electronics at the table” may put her into a bit of a curious state. Seeing each child.. and Tony and I put away our phones, iPads, laptops, would leave her wondering, to say the least.
The dinner conversation would leave a lot of room for the curiosity she would have over their day at school, how they view church and God as well as what they wear. Having come from an era where women were always in dresses and some sort of a heel and men always in dress shirts at the table.. our children would leave her gasping. Having two 15-year-old girls, the outfits are often ones where we have to say “can you go get dressed please”, or “can you pull your shirt up”. Newfound love of their own developed bodies has left them wanting to show them off more than we are comfortable with at times. (They are really not too bad, but considering Grandma hasn’t seen any fashion change since the 1040’s, it would be shocking to see so much bare leg, a bit of cleavage, etc.) The boys in rough jeans with loose-fitting tee shirts, long curly locks on my older son and a short beard on my second would seem so out of place, I am sure.
Preparing dinner in the luxury of modern stoves with spacious refrigerators and a microwave, would leave her speechless. Tony and I have a great dinner routine worked out in how we work together in the kitchen that would probably make her smile, but it would be foreign to her as only the women cooked in her time. Frankly, I am the sous-chef most of the time (not always).
The decadence of a dinner with so many types of foods.. typically we serve pasta first, then a meal of meat with two (sometimes three) vegetables (each dressed with a combination of herbs, olive oil and sometimes vinegars) followed by salad. Such a feast to her that she probably would never have experienced. Desert of fresh fruits with lemon to delight her tastebuds afterwards.
Seeing ice cubes drop from the over-sized refrigerator, such a wide variety of choices on what to drink. Seeing the children grunt to say prayers before dinner and how they rush away afterwards with not one of them staying to help – would leave her questioning our own morals as parents, I am sure.
A dishwasher.. a mechanical device to save the long hours of hand washing with the rough rags that she would have used. So many dishes, so many pots to clean. They lived with such sparsity that our luxurious lifestyle would leave her dumbfounded, at the least. I can remember that my father said that they would use sand to scrub the difficult pots, at the time. She washed all of their clothes by hand with a washing board.
Off to the TV after dinner. A big flat frame on the wall that suddenly burst with colour and voices. Something that Grandma would only have known in the theaters and probably not in colour. We Netflix and stream all that we watch, for the most part, so seeing this framed box attached to a smallish device that we open like a book, then lay flat.. but wait, the keys are like a typewriter.. yet there is a moving picture in front of the keys that follows all that we type in, and gives us a selection of thousands of movies. my goodness!
What would we watch? Modern Family would just be too shocking for her. Fantasy may be disturbing. Love stories would show a lot about the modern world so we pick Kate and Leopold. This movie may give her a glimpse of what she is going through being thrown sixty years ahead of the world that she knew. There isn’t any nudity in it, so I think this would be a wonderful opportunity for her to see today vs yesteryear.
With a passion for family, she may be disappointed that most of our children will sit, begrudgingly, to talk to her for a while and then rush off to laptops and iPads, but a couple of them would stay to ask endless questions.
I doubt that she would want to stay over the night, but if she did, I am sure that the luxury of pillow-topped mattresses and duvets over silky-smoothe sheets would be paradise after a long, hot shower.
Can you imagine stepping into a shower for the first time? Having only used a tub, I can imagine how titillating the feeling of warm drops of water pelleting gently down your body would feel for the first time. A warm, Heavenly rain encompassing all of you with fresh, clean water. My dad had said that they used a tub of barely warm water and they bathed one after the other. Ick.
Morning coffee from a machine that you place a cup under coupled with toast that is put in a mini-oven on the countertop may leave her feeling that we are so blessed in our lives of luxury. Another very noisy machine to make her a fresh smoothie (my favourite morning beverage), would delight her taste-buds after getting over the scare from the noisy blender.
Saying goodbye would be so difficult. I am sure that she would go out the way that she came in, straight from Heaven, and I would cry at losing her again after so short a visit, but it is where she belongs and the blessing is ours to have had a few hours with her.