January 13, 2013 by drandmrso
Whenever I get together with my mom’s side of the family, a ridiculous story inevitably emerges regarding the childhood of my mom or that of her two younger sisters. There was the time when my mom and my aunt broke the brand new piano bench and simply tucked the broken legs back underneath it, hoping nobody would notice. When my grandma discovered the broken legs, she demanded a refund from the piano salesman–who was understandably quite distraught–and didn’t learn until decades later the real story behind the broken bench. Or the time when my aunt split her thumb open with a hatchet she wasn’t supposed to be using and the sisters tried to play it cool and perform first-aid incognito.
But my favorite stories revolve around the special relationship between my grandparents. They are a perfect example of opposites attracting. My grandpa, a retired engineer, is a tall, tech-savvy, no-nonsense guy that (apparently) didn’t participate in board games until grandkids came along and to this day requires a great deal of coaxing to play with the rest of us. My grandma is a wonderful artist, is always the life of the party, doesn’t like using computers and definitely would not go “on-the-line” for any reason, and is a full head shorter than I am (and I am definitely not tall). They are a marvelous team and have been married for more than 50 years, but, as seems to run in my family, can both be stubborn at times. Which makes for great stories. Here is my rendition of a story I heard for the first time at Christmas.
It was the first big snowstorm of the year. While my grandpa was at work, my grandma was home, watching the snow accumulate, worrying about how her young daughters were going to be able to walk back from the elementary school a few blocks away. She fretted all morning. She imagined them getting lost in the whirling white, picturing their little shoes or hats or mittens somehow coming off and leaving a trail behind them like Hansel and Gretel in the Alps. She called her husband at work to consult him about the clearly impending doom facing their children.
“Do you think I should take the car and pick them up?”
At this point my grandpa probably looked out the window, observed a few inches of snow, calculated the distance between the elementary school and their house, recalled the last time my grandma had attempted to drive during a snowstorm and imagined the car ending up halfway down the driveway perpendicular to the garage. His answer was succinct. “Absolutely not.”
“But, Eddie,” she protested.
“No, absolutely not. They will be fine.”
And that was the end of the conversation. It didn’t provide the result my grandma was looking for, but that didn’t really matter. She had made up her mind to retrieve her poor, susceptible children from school in the car and that was that.
The time came to depart, so she bundled up in a warm coat, hat, and mittens–matching, of course–and opened the garage door. The snow had not let up all day and the driveway and the roads looked impassable, but really this was all the more reason not to let the girls walk home on their own. She started the car and slowly backed up. Snow crunched under the tires and flew in dizzying gusts over the windshield. As the front tires transitioned from the dry, warm garage to the deep snow, my grandma suddenly lost control. The car slid and spun on the ice hidden beneath a layer of fluffy white. I imagine my grandma yelped and covered her eyes–because that’s exactly what I would have done–until the car came to a stop. She slowly removed her mittens from in front of her face and assessed the situation. She found herself halfway down the driveway, the front end of the car in the yard, and somehow perpendicular to the garage.
When the initial shock of slipping on snow dissolved, she contemplated her options. The girls really didn’t have that far to walk, after all. And she certainly couldn’t get the car out of its current fix. So, abandoning the car to the bleak, snowy driveway, my grandma trekked back inside and waited anxiously for her daughters–and less anxiously for her husband–to arrive.
A little while later, the girls came bounding down the sidewalk, throwing snowballs at one another and catching snowflakes on their tongues. They stopped to observe the strange angle of their mom’s car in the driveway, but they shrugged it off and plopped onto the lawn to make snow angels until my grandma warned them their toes would fall off if they didn’t come inside this instant. When my grandpa arrived home from work, I imagine he slowed considerably when he turned the corner and saw the car. He probably sighed, rolled his eyes, and said quietly to himself, “absolutely not.”