Thursday, September 28, 2006

My grandparents (paca)

For some reason I wanted to start this post by saying that I had 4 grandparents. Then I thought, "well, that's silly, everyone has 4 grandparents." But both of my parents and both of N's parents are remarried, so B has 8.

I had 4 grandparents.

As you can tell from the tense, they are all gone now. Perhaps the best order in which to talk about them is the order in which I lost them.

Papa (pronounced PawPaw) was my mom's dad. He was a doctor in Houston. Apparently, he was a proctologist - at least I think so. He also worked for some 50 years as the doctor at Rice University athletics, putting athletes back together. Everyone says he was a kind man. My uncle is a poet and has a lovely poem about his dad staying by his side hour after hour to nurse him back to health. I lost Papa when I was in grade school or junior high, so I only knew him as a child. My favorite memory remains sitting outside the Houston town house widdling. He would gather fallen sticks after a storm and turn them into canes. Or Jack Jack sticks as they were called, since he put a small plaque that read Jack Jack # on each one, named for himself and his son. I had Jack Jack 19 and it was my lucky stick. I had to hold it when I played the llama and my brother in Risk. Eventually, Jack Jack 19 broke and I don't know where it is now.

Flash was my father's father. This set of grandparents lived in the same town as myself, so I inevitably knew them better. Flash liked thing his way and he didn't care what anyone else thought. As a child, this worked just fine. It probably wasn't always great for everyone else. When we went out to eat at Brown's Landing, Flash made up his own menu. He would tell the waitress exactly how many pieces of catfish and how many hushpuppies he wanted. They'd bring it out, but of course he always ordered the same thing - to the hushpuppy. He also decided he preferred Sunday School to the church service, so every week he'd go to Sunday School and then take off before the service started. This was one of the ways that I spent time alone with him. He would pick me up for Sunday School and then drop me back off afterwards. Sometimes he'd go pick up fried chicken and bring it to our house. We'd also do Sunday drives together sometimes. Supposedly, he once did Sunday drives with the llama's grandad, but I don't really remember that. On a Sunday drive, sometimes you'd go up to the farm and drive around the cattle, then go home. Sometimes, you'd drive to see the Mississippi levees and then go home. Flash died when I was in 9th or 10th grade and away in New Jersey.

Smoochie was my dad's mom and the grandparent I knew the best. I got to know her the best around 6th to 7th grade. I would take the bus from school to her house a couple times a week. There was a set routine. Smoochie had horrible osteoporosis (sp?) and due to broken bones lived in her chair for at least a decade. So, I would open the door as quietly as I could and then slowly creep through the house. I'd crawl behind the plaid sofa, then dart behind Flash' big blue chair. Next it was behind the sofa covered in plastic until I jumped up behind Smoochie to scare her. This could take up to half an hour and worked about 10% of the time. After this, I'd sit in the wheelchair next to her chair and we'd watch Jeopardy or another game show, competing to answer the questions. Finally, I'd proceed to the kitchen to eat Fritos that were always kept in the freezer and drink bottled cokes, which they got because the Coke bottlers rented a warehouse from Flash. You can't ask her anymore, but if you went to her house for many years, she'd tell you this story in these exact words, changing the names, "And Paca just got so disgusted with his brother who kept picking at his food that he said, 'Smoochie, I'lllll eat ANYthing." Later in life, she'd tell that story several times in the same meal. Smoochie lived to the age of 90. She hung in there and hung in there until her big 90th birthday party, and then a week later we were all back for the funeral.

Mimi. Obviously, my mom's mom. The only city girl of the group. Born in Houston and lived there all her life. Even though she made it the longest in my life, I knew her the least. I don't know why that's the case. With all the other grandparents, the times I remember were the alone times - just me and that person. All my memories of Mimi, however, have other people in them, too. My own mother is reading this blog now, so perhaps she will correct me. I remember Mimi worrying a lot, wanting to keep us safe. I remember the world's best roast beef that she would purchase for me at Nielson's deli, though she wasn't amused when I would eat the whole purchase at one sitting. She prepared lunches for us to go to the Houston zoo and natural history museum. I was stunned when I learned as an adult, that it's a 15 minute drive away. I thought it was in Botswana or something the way we prepped for the expedition. She also made sandwiches for us for the drive back from Houston to north Louisiana. Do other people remember the times when you prepped a cooler for a drive? Mimi was Christian Scientist, and when I had a serious sickness once, she called the Reader to help me. I still don't exactly know what that means, but I understand that she was praying for me. That meant a lot then and it still does. Mimi passed away right around the time B was born and so I missed her funeral, attending to the first and only great-grandchild.

That's how I remember my grandparents.

1 comment:

Killer Llama said...

I remember being told about Flash and Daddy Tom (my mother's father) going on rides together. But I have no direct memories myself, either.

I remember riding to Smoochies after tennis practice or school. I remember sneaking with you, but I mostly remember Juanita and her biscuits. I loved those biscuits... I don't think I've ever had any like them anywhere else. Thin and crispy and loaded with butter.