The Mom and I are in Indiana for the week to help The Grandmother around the house. This all started as a whimsical idea of helping empty out the “junk room” that could have its own episode of Hoarders, and then the Grandmother got excited. We have now completely re-carpeted the house, moved all the furniture into other rooms, and we will paint at least 2 rooms in the next two weeks. Maybe… maybe we will get to the infamous “junk room” by the end of the week.
Apparently completely re-doing a house is a normal step in the moving-on process when a spouse passes away. The Grandfather died about a year and a half ago, and now we have been recruited to do every household process he didn’t like in the span of 6 days. He kept saying no about the carpet? TA DA! He kept saying no about new paint colors? TA DA! And let’s go spend all the money because… well… we can! I have been recruited for such a massive rehaul and deep cleaning of the entire house that you may not be able to recognize it from the previous house (though the endless collections of Precious Moments and teddy bears may give it away).
It should be said that my family has always had a fairly healthy outlook on family members passing away. Grieving takes time, and it’s important to remember the person – good and bad. And it’s completely okay to experience every emotion in the book. To put it into perspective, every time I called during the week of The Grandfather’s funeral… it was like comic relief. One time The Grandmother was talking lovingly of the 55 year marriage, the next she would be saying if he were there she’d kill him herself because she had just found another drawer full of receipts from 1957. There was also a massive plot to hire a cowerson of bagpipers (THANK YOU GOOGLE FOR THAT WONDERFUL WORD) for the funeral because The Grandfather hated… and I mean comically hated the idea of a bagpipe version of Amazing Grace. It was almost too perfect to pass up, as it had always been a family joke that at his funeral he would certainly rise from the dead if a bagpiper walked through the door. I’m sure some people would have been shocked by the playfulness that we all associate with that week, but it brought everyone closer when The Grandmother needed it most.
It’s been fascinating to watch The Grandmother go through so many changes in the past year. She hadn’t driven in 5 years. She had not ever lived on her own, and she had never managed bills or written a check. She had also never made a political decision on her own. A 55 year marriage when it starts at age 20 didn’t leave time for too much individual exploration. So each phone call is filled with new discoveries that you may associate with a teenager really getting to know herself. And, honestly, for the first time I can really relate to The Grandmother. She’s learning what she loves and what she wants at the same time I am. We’ve bonded over paying bills and pursuing new dreams. I never ever thought I’d have some of those conversations with her.
The funniest part of this transition, though, has to be her newfound awareness of other men in her life. Life doesn’t stop at 77, folks! Add some classy pick up lines, and you can easily get one embarrassed Grandmother! There’s this Wayne – a churchman that is too smooth and talkative. Why on earth would he ever say so many things in so little time? He wears fringed jackets, and she will definitely tell you what that fringe means. There’s also men who act too old. And then… there’s the Silver Fox.
Within four whole minutes of walking in the door yesterday, The Grandmother started to blush telling me all about this man she met at the Walmart Pharmacy last month — a place of infamous romance, I tell you. He was very tall and had wavy, silver hair. And, he was a dandy. A true Richard Gere type! He entertained The Grandmother with stories of wintering in Texas, where the selling points are that nothing is open after 6 pm (a hot commodity). He also fishes, and he’d love to see how she does on a boat. (Though the last time she was fishing, she was told she talked too much. Oh the hilarity!) And get this… he finished filling his prescription and then escorted her to the counter and waited on her. That’s modern day chivalry! He just talked and talked and told story after story… and really, who was The Grandmother to refuse? He was a gorgeous, tall man who was “just the sweetest” she had talked to in a long time.
Oh, his name? She has no idea… he’ll forever be the nameless Silver Fox at Walmart. A brush with fate. A brush with gorgeous, tall, wavy fate.
A week full of hard labor and boy talk with the Grandmother? This is gonna be a hoot!