Carry on Tuesday: Vive la difference

English: A photograph of a 2 month old human i...

English: A photograph of a 2 month old human infant, his mother, his maternal grandmother, and his maternal great-grandmother. Each person in this photograph gave birth to the next younger person thus showing four generations in one family photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am 83 now and in my day, when I was growing up in Europe as a child, are parents and grandparents taught us to have impeccable manners. Yes, we were “old school” as my grandchildren tell me. It didn’t matter that we were poor, and couldn’t buy things, it mattered how we acted. We acted like the sons and daughters of kings and queens. We had no money and were poor but our family was very strict and we were taught to be courteous to everyone. As girls, we had no freedom at all, we did what our parents and grandparents said, there was nothing to think about, we did what they told us to do, never could we question their choices. We did not KNOW that questioning was an option because back in those days it did not exist.

I married a man, who was of course, the son of a European father and mother. He was not wealthy either but our styles were the same. Manners were natural to us, culturally we were very alike which I think is very important. When after several years we moved to the United States of America we were shocked when we found out that not everyone was raised the same way. It took years for my husband and I to learn to adjust to people who didn’t know to say  “Thank you” or “Please.” If an elderly person had no seat on the tram we automatically got up and offered our seat to them. I thought this was what everybody did. I learned the hard way, that most people did not do these courteous things. But, then again, I had lived in a much different world. I made sure however, that my children and grandchildren learned these manners and I am proud of them.

Today young people can do so much more, they are free to make decisions, they have so many options, oh, how I envy them and delight in their world. They can have careers, go to college, be parents and work, it is so exciting! We were never allowed to work, our only job was to be mothers we had no choices back then. Imagine now, if young women had no choices, there would be an uproar, good for YOU! You have come such a long way and I am glowing with pride, look at what you accomplished that my generation could not, vive la différence! Celebrate young women, you have achieved so much in a life time, a different world, where you are equal, where you can do whatever it is YOU want and not be told what to do. Congratulations!

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Carry on Tuesday: Fear not for the future, Weep not for the past

My Grandparents

My Grandparents (Photo credit: protoflux)

“John, you listen up, I’ve been trying to talk to you all morning. Now sit down next to me you old fool and stop teasing me. I’m just having one of my worrying spells. Oh, stop shaking your head back and forth, you old buzzard, you knew I had these spells back when you married me.

What’s it been now, almost 40 years we’ve been together? So long that at night, my breathing slows down to yours, even when that darn snoring of yours wakes me up, why I just push you over and fall back asleep.

We’re old badgers but we’re lucky cause we got grandchildren now.  Stevie’s third child is due in two months, imagine that. Why I still remember when our own babies were born, like it was yesterday. I don’t remember lots of things, but I remember that clear as day. We had two babies running around in those cotton messy diapers, oh my, all the washing and cleaning in the tub.

Do you remember when the kids went to college? Sure, we were proud as can be but I was sad deep down, all the time. I still had their baby photos up all around and I just had to take them down cause they hurt me to see them, all loving and sweet and innocent. I had me a stabbing pain that caught my breath and wouldn’t leave. The kids didn’t seem to need us anymore. All they wanted to do was be with their friends and drink, least that’s what it felt like to me.

We had each other though, so we could talk between us but those weren’t good years. You remember those years? Of course you don’t, you remember nothing. Don’t pinch me old man, I can still laugh at you, I’m your wife, you best remember that.

I do look forward to when the kids visit. Seeing our babies with their babies. People used to tell us how great it was to be Grandparents and they were right. Those grandchildren are pure magic, fat, cuddly babies with sticky faces but I sure hope I’m still alive to see them as teenagers. I’m laughing and shaking my head thinking bout how bad our kids were in their teens and early twenties. Why I’d enjoy our grandchildren acting up to their parents like ours did to us. Wouldn’t you?

How much time left you think we got left, Johnny? Come on what do you think? I know you can’t say for sure, not asking for sure. You KNOW I sometimes think on these things. I got to admit, I’m still a little fearful of the future though I’m not afraid to die. I know you say just don’t think about it but sometimes I  do anyways. I can’t help it. Or what if you die first? I don’t want to sleep in this bed alone and be cold and lonesome. Why, you’d miss me if I was gone too. Who would do your cooking and cleaning up and make the bed look so pretty, just the way you like? I know you wouldn’t say it but I know you’d miss me; I see that little smile there, John, don’t try to hide it.

Now, let’s take each day as it comes, we not look back and weep for it, what good is that gonna do? We had all those times and now our turn is over; it’s time to pass them on to new generations. It’s their turn, let them enjoy it. We’re just jealous is all, because we didn’t appreciate it when we had it and time speeds by us like a quick burst of chilly air.

Take my hand, husband we’re going walk over to our garden now, gonna water the tomatoes, going to pick some of the cucumbers and you can help me with the corn. We’re gonna do it together, old man, and then we’re going to eat dinner, and for dessert I made you your favorite, a blueberry crumble. Why yes I did. We’ll sit on the porch eating our supper, for as long as the good Lord above will let us. I pray that it’s gonna be a really long time.”

So Now I’m A Friggin Grandma?

Grandma

Image by GreenLight Designs (jwgreen) via Flickr

I just read an article about “Rent -A-Grandma” which provides women, OVER 50, did you hear me correctly….50 to join the work force. “Grandmas” can pet sit, baby sit, do errands, they are reliable,  have experience (sic OLD) and don’t have to worry about age discrimination anymore. They can do elder care if needed although that’s really Grandma-Helping-Grandma so I’m not sure if that particular service has been thought out completely. I thought this was a joke too but people, listen to me, it really does exist.

Part of me wants to join and be able to make money, the other part of me is disgusted and refuses to believe that over 50 could even be considered a Grandma.  I know I got married relatively late at 31 and had children three years later but still, my son is just graduating from High School and my daughter will be a Senior next year. Grandma, me? Really?

There is something offensive about this although I am not exactly sure what it is except for the fact that some company is saying that the age 50 and over signifies old grandmas. What do they call their workers over 55? Octogenerians? Listen, you can reference check me all you want. I have been a professional, I have worked in corporations and in colleges, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother and a reliable and good friend. But a Grandma? Not yet, but maybe I will give it a try before I am withered up, unable to move, locked in a wheel-chair and wetting my pants. Couldn’t they have called it something else? Is this supposed to be a successful marketing technique?

When I first glanced at the ad I thought it was for people who wanted an elderly woman to bake them cookies, to come over and chat, give them much-needed warmth and support. They could also help with the children while dispensing wisdom to us parents. I think to be qualified as a Grandma you need certain skills, baking and cooking for one. Each Grandma, if it was up to me, would smell like the essence of real vanilla, tote Hershey Kiss Surprise cookies ( thank you, Omi) and be able to dispense knowledge and real life stories of success.

Hey, I don’t want any old Grandma. I don’t want to BE any old Grandma either. Women of our distinguished age with maturity, charm and self-respect need well-mannered clients. We will be all the things you want us to be. We will pretend that we do not know how to text and tweet ( I really do not have an idea of how that works anyway) but if you don’t want us to have a cell phone, forget about it, it’s gone.  For money and job stability, our aprons will be wrapped around our necks. We may even consider doing windows but it will cost you. Rent-A-Grandma, there’s a franchise coming to you, because “there’s nothing like experience.”