Monday, May 16, 2011


Part nine of my Nana stories. - Cricket

During the last year of her life, my grandmother took to wearing her class ring: Boston University, Class of 1936. I do not know why. I never knew her to be nostalgic for her college days. One day she put it on and left it. I felt the obvious question would be unwelcome.

That last summer, she kept a copy of Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle-Stop Cafe always among her papers. She was a chronic reader, but it was a little unusual to see the same title remain for long. When we cleaned out her apartment, I absently picked it up, and saw that she had marked this passage.

"Now, you ask me the year somebody got married... who they married... or what the bride's mother wore, and nine times out of ten I can tell you, but for the life of me, I cain't tell you when it was I got to be so old. It just sorta slipped up on me. The first time I noticed it was June of this year, when I was in the hospital for my gallbladder, which they still have, or maybe they threw it out by now... who knows. That heavyset nurse had just given me another one of those Fleet enemas they're so fond of over there when I noticed what they had on my arm. It was a white band that said: Mrs. Cleo Threadgoode... an eighty-six-year-old woman. Imagine that!

"When I got back home, I told my friend Mrs. Otis, I guess the only thing left for us to do is sit around get ready to croak.... She said she preferred the term pass over to the other side. Poor thing, I didn't have the heart to tell her that no matter what you call it, we're all going to croak, just the same...

"It's funny, when you're a child you think time will never go by, but when you hit about twenty, time passes like you're on the fast train to Memphis. I guess life just slips up on everybody. It sure did on me. One day I was a little girl and the next I was a grown woman, with bosoms and hair on my private parts. I missed the whole thing."

Wiping away a tear, I gently placed the book in my box.


And so the story ends, as all stories eventually must. Is it a true story? Yes and no. My grandmother was complex, and loving her was no less complicated. I believe that each person who knew her knew a different woman. That was who she was. All I can say is this is my story.

This is our story.

I cannot tell the truth about my grandmother because I do not know it. Though I was as close to her as she ever allowed anyone to get, she shared with me what she chose and took the rest with her. That was who she was. Yet I like to think that she gave me herself as best she could. That will forever have to be enough. She loved me from the beginning. I loved her until the end. We loved each other as we were and that is enough.

That is my truth.

Respectfully Yours,



Bossy Betty said...

Another great one, Cricket. Your grandmother's surprise at having age sneak up on her is becoming more familiar to me. She had such a great and commanding spirit. How dare age come when she had not invited it??

Out on the prairie said...

That age thing is a hard one to avoid. It passed me by when I wasn't looking I guess.

Suldog said...

Your truth is a lovely truth. You're better for having been granted it, and we're better for your having shared it. Thank you.

Shrinky said...

Oh Cricket, that was so lovingly penned, such a wonderfully tender post. By an odd coincidence, I kept a book of my mother's after she died - she too had marked out several passages there.

lime said...

that you each loved each other and you each knew it...that is indeed enough. the truth? you've spoken it in love and isn't that what we are asked to do?

Anonymous said...

"She loved me from the beginning. I loved her until the end."

That got me.

Jayne said...

Your truth is the only truth you know for sure. And it's a beautiful one. :)

Claudya Martinez said...

That was so beautifully written I got a lump in my throat.

CiCi said...

Do you also have your grandmother's class ring? Each part you wrote about your grandmother has been endearing and insightful for me as a reader as well as appreciating all the goodness she brought into your life. You had a consistency for many years that so many of us envy while at the same time thrilled for you.

Cricket said...

Hi Techno -

Yes, I do. It was handed to me at the hospital the night she died and I have it still.

I do not recall that she wore any other rings ever, wedding or otherwise. Just the one in that last year we had.


Anonymous said...

"I cain't tell you when it was I got to be so old. It just sorta slipped up on me."

Yes, indeed it does, and sometimes we don't realize it until we are told by someone else.

I'm currently reading "Angle of Repose" and it keeps reminding me of your stories of your grandmother.

Hilary said...

That age thing does indeed sneak up on us. Much like love does.

This tribute to your Nana is a beautiful gift of love. Somewhere, she's smiling on you. That too is a truth.

CiCi said...

I like the photo on this post. Did you take this? Would you give me permission to print it and use it?

Cricket said...

Hi Techno -

The "photo" is actually a painting: Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth. This hung in my Nana's front hall for as long as I can remember. I think, from her MS, she identified with Christina, a neighbor of Wyeth who he saw one day crawling across a field to her house, though he took artistic liberties in rendering the scene.

If you look at an enlarged version, you can see the tension in Christina's hands. I'm certain this held personal meaning for my Nana as she told me the story of Christina's paralysis when I was quite young.

So that is what the image is. I can't technically give permission, of course, but that is where to find it.

- C