Long Distance Calls and A Pending Interview

Phone chats with my grandmother are some of my happiest minutes, especially when the minutes turn into hours.

As I child, I loved time with my mom’s parents, as they were easy to love, patient beyond what I deem normal, and had pretty wild imaginations. From “Honky Tonk’s Pizza Parlor” (see an early post dedicated to this) to the jaunts to a local lake in the summer, and basement billiard lessons, they really were a bag of surprises.

As close as I felt to them growing up, I would have never imagined that as a 30-something, I’d be lucky enough to still have regular, lengthy, important, and grounded conversations with my now 93 year old grandmother.

Tonight on my trek home from Kentucky, I chatted with her for more than an hour, and as usual, we covered recent news in about ten minutes, and then launched into the good stuff—old stories from a time I can only stretch my mind to imagine as I hear the age in her voice, her childlike laughter over old valentines she found from 1915, and the jagged cracks of emotion when she retold something about grandpa.

I sometimes feel guilty for moving away, because I only visit a couple of times a year, and there’s never enough time in a dinner or evening with her. But the truth is, it was the moving away that instigated the phone chats, and I imagine we talk a lot more than we would if she was right under my nose. It’s easy to say I’d visit all the time, and maybe I would, but I wouldn’t trade anything for those long distance calls.

I made a laundry list of questions that I want to know about her younger years, her marriage to grandpa, her perspective of the egg business, etc. and asked her tonight if we could “schedule” some interview time. It’s selfish, really…I want to capture as much of her spirit as I can; I lost this chance already with grandpa and don’t want to squander the present with her. So her interview begins this weekend (especially if she’s snowed in–I’ll have a captive audience!) 🙂

At work last week, the trainees were asked to think about our motivation–why we want to be successful, and what our goals are. When thinking about what motivates and inspires me, I saw her face in my mind and remembered her voice on the phone a couple years ago when I was telling her about my master’s degree. She told me she was proud of me for working so hard–and that’s a moment I’ll never forget.

I can’t wait to start her interview, as I know it’s more time I get to hear the great stories of our family; more importantly, it’ll be a document that can outwit time.

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My Sister, Dish Evader

As if we haven’t had enough (town)house drama with no air/heat since April and a variety of other household mishaps, tonight the dishwasher decided to have a significant meltdown.  After mashing all the buttons, attempting a re-set and reading manuals, I set to the task of hand-washing the dishes from tonight and last night’s pumpkin shenanigans.  (See, my neighbor Mark was throwing away two perfectly good pumpkins, so I swapped free pumpkins for pumpkin bread and salted seeds.)  At any rate, as I washed the dishes tonight, I noticed that I left all the silverware for last, because that’s the worse, most tedious part.  It reminded me of my sister…

We’re eight years apart, so we’ve never had too much in common or really lived in the same space for as long as most siblings might.  I was an annoying little sister, of course, but I admired her and wanted to be just like her for years.  She wanted to be an architect at one point, and I signed up for drafting classes my 9th grade year because I decided I should have the same goals. I later realized my lack of spatial understanding and difficultly with numbers and abandoned the idea. My point is…I idolized her and would do any favor for her if she asked–even the dishes.  Joyce somehow always got stuck with dish-duty (I mostly manned the bathroom situation at our house) and inevitably had to finish dishes before she could go out on dates with Pat, this “city-ish” boy she used to date.  She’d wash the biggest two or three dishes, and then dump all the silverware in the bottom of the sink, layer the dishes on top, and fill the entire sink level full with water so that it looked like there were few dishes left to deal with.  While you would think I’d learn my lesson after her first escapades, I somehow had amnesia every time she had a date and I’d literally rinse and repeat in her honor.

Joyce and I have chosen really different lives and actually have little in common these days.  She’s the super-mom who makes cool crafts, caters to her kids, teaches Sunday school, and houses every possible family event at her beautiful lake house.  Her family was here in Atlanta at Thanksgiving and it felt so awesome to connect with her, share life stories, play with her kids and laugh with her husband.  I’m so thankful that in spite of our incredibly different lives we can embrace each other and support the choices we each make.

As much as I hate doing the dishes and the shriveled skin that it inevitably creates, I’d still do batch after batch for her if she asked me to.  I’ve since learned how to be me instead of being her shadow, but I still adore and admire her for the influence that she had on my life and the role that her and her family play in our lives.

All because my dishwasher broke….I suppose this memory is worth the $75 home owners insurance charge to fix the issue. 🙂