16 January 2007

The Endless Winter

The district is closed for the sixth time this year, thus extending our MLK holiday a bit. It does feel like winter for once as we have had so much snow and ice. Mind you, I spent most of the last few days in the midwest, also snowbound, but with three octogenarians: my grandmother and two of her sisters. The younger one (who's 83) had broadband, so at least contact with the outside world could be maintained. The three of them are currently staying with the youngster at the moment---one due to her home burning recently and another due to an injury that requires some vigilance. I went to help with some things that they needed done, but due to weather, we never left the house and none of those particular items were accomplished.

All was not lost, however. This appeared to be the time that they were ready to tell all sorts of stories---things unuttered and unexplored for years. I sat in the kitchen, drinking coffee as they each stopped for a moment to empty their heads. The eldest spent much of her adulthood in New York, carving quite the career in the diamond business. At 73, she decided it was time to settle down and got married for the first time. Now widowed and living back home in the midwest at age 87, she is craving a bit of intellectual stimulation and conversation. We talked a lot about the culture of poverty, generational change, and writing. She shared her poetry and a musical she'd written. This is a woman who should really have a blog. :) My grandmother has always been a bit of a drama queen. She doesn't really want to have conversation; she just wants to tell her stories---embellishments and all. This visit seemed to primarily focus on her experiences as a young wife during the start of WWII. The youngest sister shared some similar things, but she has always been more focused on others than herself and had the least to say. I loved to watch them all interact. Sibling rivalry does not appear to dampen with age. My favourite thing was to see each one pull out her lipstick and mirror after each meal and reapply a bit of colour to the lips: a ritual of ladylike proportions.

It is the winter of their lives, something they're all well aware of. My grandmother's sisters have no children of their own. My grandmother's only child has been dead several years now. I am the one who is here to listen to the tales and bear this information into the future. Since today's weather here has provided for an additional day of repose, I hope to capture a few of the stories in a digital format for reference later. Spring will eventually be here---a time for new adventures for all of us.


Anonymous said...

How very cool for you to spend that time with your kinfolks...the stories they tell!

The Science Goddess said...

They were very interesting. Certainly kept me amused while being snowbound!