Wednesday, May 4, 2011
There came a time when my grandmother began showing signs of age. A great shock to me. I thought she was immortal. It was agreed that I would buy her three story house and move in so that I could keep an eye on her. It was a reversal of position that happens so often in families. Ma, as everyone called her including my brother and I, cared for us when were young and my mother was working at the old National Biscuit factory down by the Hudson River. This is before my mother moved us to Iowa and went to Palmer School of Chiropractic. We would sit in the dark and listen to radio shows like "The Lone Ranger"-ah, to possess the deep sonorous tones of this champion of justice. Ma would knit without comment while we imagined the destination of whistling arrows and galloping horses. The juxtaposition of Old World Poland and the Old West is something young boys were blind and deaf too. Ma was Ma. Ma had always been Ma--a certain vague age between sixty and eternity frozen in my memory forever. Our years together before I married Karen was not the challenge everyone thought. The only challenge was watching her breakfast on powdered donuts and half cooked bacon and eggs--now wonder I thought she was immortal. One time we were sitting in the living room having a typical philosophical conversation. I should say that she had little sense of humor. I now know that, like other luxuries, humor could not be afforded in the Great Depression of the 1930's. Ma was waxing nostalgic about being the last one standing. All her Polish lady friends that would gather at her place on Friday after work were all gone. I said in my best pseudo scientific voice, "Ma, most people die in their seventies and you are now in your eighties. If you were going to die, it would have happened years ago. You are going to live forever." Her look was one of sadness for her not quite right grandson but other then a slow shake of the head there were no disparaging remarks. After all I was family, her grandson to be loved wordlessly, even if I was not quite right in the head.