Elegy for an Old Lady
Elegy more in the reflective sense, as my grandmother is not dead- in fact, it was recently stated point blank that after my cousin graduates in May, it will officially be my turn to provide the event/milestone for which she must stay alive, which is only fair, given that my cousin has managed to stretch a graphic design degree at the community college into a six-year affair- but she is a cool, cool old lady, my favorite as a matter of fact, and she deserves to have her praises sung on a little-read blog that she does not know exists, and never will, as the act of trying to explain the heady concept of a blog to a woman who can't quite wrap her head around the "Redial" function of her phone must surely already be reserved for someone else's purgatorial task.
My grandmother believes that every single morsel of food must be removed from its original packaging and rewrapped in SaranWrap or another acceptable sealant; to ask her the reasoning behind this results in a look of abject horror so utterly convincing that you actually begin to believe that you might as well have been pissing on your cold cuts all these years for all the good the deli wrapping is doing you. In this vein, though, she also shares my appreciation for the wide world of questionable meats and processed foods. To whit, her latest care package:
Prepackaged tuna steak, salmon, beef jerky, Tyson's "Buffalo Style Chicken Chunks" (made with all dark meat!), and the viande de resistance, Bite Size Teriyaki Snacks, which is essentially Pupperoni for humans.
Firstly, I love picturing my grandmother wheeling around the supermarket with the shopping list of a WWII trench soldier. Second, dark meat chicken jerky? Who even knew such a thing existed? I'm half expecting the next package to just contain a bag of beaks and hooves. Thirdly, she also included Necco Wafers in the shipment, perfectly and subtly asserting her old ladiness. The woman knows her way around a care package.
I'm a big fan of things that unabashedly embrace their stereotypes- Europeans who smoke with their fingers held straight, hot dog vendors who say "Whaddaya want?", dogs that lick themselves- so the fact that although my grandmother could, and often does, strike fear in the hearts of men for as little as forgetting to double a coupon, she still enjoys scratchoff lotto tickets, watering her plants, and sending pastel Hallmark cards could not be more delightful. At the relatively tender age of 61, the woman strapped herself to a young man and a parachute and jumped out of a plane; now at 71, she's got some heart problems and has difficulty walking for distance, but steadfastly refuses to "look like one of the cripples" (during one particularly long visit last October, I convinced her to go to bingo at Foxwoods Casino by pointing out that at her age, things were only going to go downhill, and having just had her hair done, she was, in fact, looking the best she ever would for the rest of her life, so why not take to the streets?). Over Thanksgiving, when my mother produced a wheelchair from the back of her flaming chariot and insisted that she use it within the mall, my grandmother instead placed her oxygen tank in the chair and pushed it around herself, so it looked as though she was some sort of orderly who had lost their senile old person. One of the many members of the Buns and Liquor family in possession of a Handicapped Parking pass ("cripple pass"), she tells me that when a member of her friend group dies, those little old ladies clamor to put dibs on first the parking pass, then the clothes, and things get ugly. Fake IDs for old people- who knew?
The woman WHITEOUTS HER POSTITS. That is devotion to a literary cause. I'm so lazy I frequently write on my own hands rather than locating paper; this puts me to shame. All this on top of the text of the note, which reads:
"Jen- Put peanut butter on these for breakfast. Yum, Yum!! Also, I found Smucker Uncrustables GRILLED CHEESE!! "Micro" oops!"
If I ever find someone else in this world who is so excited by the prospect of premade, crustless, microwavable grilled cheeses that they give it the "all caps, double exclamation point" treatment, I'll have to immediately sneak up behind them and strangle them with a piano wire, because the world does not have enough room for such awesomeness. These are the same Post-its that she hands me each time I visit, asking me to label things that I want when she dies, oblivious to the fact that a. it's weird to claim one's worldly possessions the same way that one keeps their office workers from eating their lunch and b. the legality of the whole endeavor is questionable at best. Of course, she's also stated that when she does kick it, we should just cremate her in whatever box is handy, then toss the ashes in a coffee can, which puts me in the unenviable position of either looking like a dick in front of the funeral director or not fulfilling an old lady's dying wish.
Another example of my grandmother's undeniable coolness, as if one was needed:
"Didn't want to walk to the den to get a smaller envelope."
SHE APOLOGIZES FOR WASTING ENVELOPE SPACE. As I've pointed out to her, the very act of writing across the envelope, apologizing for wasting its intangible contents, justified the use of the larger envelope in itself, but when it comes down to getting into a metaphysical discussion with your granddaughter or watching Judge Judy, well, I'm big enough to know my place in the pecking order.