Saturday, November 17, 2007

Me And Grandma Strange

I must have taken a sabbatical and wasn't aware of it. I have not been here for some time. That is my life. There is a message there some where.

I was thinking about my childhood. I don't do that too often. I saw something on one of the news channels about child abuse and it came to mind for a fleeting second. I always laugh and say I was raised by wolves when someone asks about my childhood. Actually wolves would have been a better choice over the human parents. I did not want to dwell on that so I went into my mind about the better things in my life and the first thing I see is my Grandma Strange. (real last name) Grandma Strange for me is what Dr. Phil means when he says everyone needs a soft place to fall. Grandma was indeed the epitome of a soft place to fall. I would give years off my life if it meant she could have lived longer.

I begged to go to Grandma's house. The male part of my parents forbid much visiting because if it was enjoyable, you could not do it. I started visiting Grandma from birth on and I have not yet replaced what she gave me. No one has ever made me as happy and safe as she did.

The time period here is in the late 40s, 50s and into the 60s. Grandma and Grandpa were my wolf mother's parents. They lived in Detroit Michigan all their lives. They had two daughters and three sons. Grandma was a devout Catholic and attended Mass daily. Grandpa was a devout alcoholic and attended the bar daily. But, grandpa owned his own butcher shop and he was a good drunk. The only way you were aware he was drunk is when he sat down to read the evening paper and his teeth fell out. But, functional he was, never missed working 7 to 7 six days a week. He never attended Mass on Sunday either but Grandma Strange prayed enough for him too.

In my house growing up we were never allowed to have company. No one came to our house. At Grandma's house it was an open door policy. She never knew how many for dinner or if one of her own had moved back in the house. She told me she had started feeding and caring for everyone during the depression. I can remember she always had a house full on Saturday night. The friends of her sons came over and brought their beer and she made tons of popcorn. They watched the wrestling matches on the small TV. They whooped and hollered. They all believed it was the real thing because it was on television.

Sunday afternoon she came home from Mass and cooked fried chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables and home made bread. I never understood how she did it because no matter how many people showed up she had enough food for everyone.

I never saw Grandma Strange angry. I saw her give looks that should have killed the person she was looking at, but she was a saint.

I loved Grandma Strange's house. It was an old two story with the big porch on the front. If I was lucky enough to be there on the week end my cousin Diane would let me help her do chores. She was one of my uncle's daughters. His family moved in and out of Grandma's house like it was a hotel. I never asked why. It is great to be a kid and not know the bad things that go on in life. They lived at Grandmas most of the time. They had two daughters and two sons.

The house was the clapboard that was used before aluminum siding was heard of and it had a huge wood porch attached to the front leading to the door. That was sacred ground. We were never allowed to use the front entry. Actually no one could use the front porch except the mailman. The porch was gray in color. It had to be swept and washed every Saturday. The other job that took place on the porch was polishing shoes. There were saddle shoes and tennis type shoes. We only had dress shoes if there had been a funeral or a wedding the previous week. I detested doing the saddle shoes because Diane was so picky about the way they were done. If I got any white on the black I had to take a teeny tiny barely wet rag and get it off immediately. I messed up enough times that she demoted to tennis shoes forever. There was no second chances with her, unless it came to scrubbing the porch. Then you had to do that until you got it right. She would stand and watch until she saw Grandma coming to check on the progress. Grandma couldn't be fooled. She knew what Diane was doing by making me do all the work. She had probably done to all the cousins since she was one of the older ones. Grandma would check it over while Diane had just grabbed the old rag mop out of my hands. Then Grandma would look at me and wink, "Good job, Grace Marie. Thank you." That made my heart sing and my tongue stick out in Diane's direction.

Tomorrow the Sheeny Man comes.

1 comment:

kwrenb said...

Grace!
It's wonderful to see you back here and be able to read your words again!
I'm loving this first installment of the Legend of Grandma Strange -
please keep those words flowing!