The Transfiguration

everything is sacred

Generations of the Day #1894

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Generations of the Day #1894

I miswrote my step-grandmother’s name yesterday. She’s Bessie, not Betsy, and to be truthful it wasn’t a typo. It’s more a result of my always calling parents and grandparents by their titles instead of their names, and never hearing her family call her by name either. I remember being in her kitchen when I was four years old, calling her “Hey!” because I had no other name for her. She offered the names Bessie or Grandma instead; the memory of that name was crumpled and distorted as it traveled through so many years, and so yesterday, very doubtfully, I chose Betsy over Bessie.

Anyway! It seemed important to recognize that mistake.

For Thanksgiving many of the family collected at her home, as per tradition. The tables and counters were piled with Too Much Food (including eight pies, one of which I took home almost whole), and people chattered and chewed over several hours. Joe – my stepdad, I think Joe the Third – showed me the peas and artichokes he was growing in the backyard, I explained bits of neuroscience to anyone who asked; and between courses we sat in the living room and guessed at questions from a decades-old Trivial Pursuit box. There are three generations in this photo – grandmother, son, and grandson (and son’s boyfriend) – and the old questions were an interesting way to gauge the distance between generations. Some questions are timeless, some refer to old pop culture that flies clear over our heads now, and some are scientifically outdated, and it was fun to see who could get which kinds of questions.

In return for showing her my memory book last year, Bessie showed me her own book full of quotes and curiosities she’d collected over the years. In her immaculate script she’d written recipes, bits of inspiration, bible passages, statistics (such as the most populous cities of California and the death toll of the Hiroshima bombing), and little witticisms she’d decided were worth saving. The front cover had a scrap my sister had doodled on when she was ten, sporting the word “Grandma” with flowers growing out of it.

It was really nice of her to show me that book, and somehow made me feel more welcome there than all the hugs and food and questions had. I tend to worry that I’m something of an intruder at these events, an incidental peripheral character, but it seems like my step-grandma doesn’t think the same way.

She has a lot of people there for her, and I hope she’s doing well.

and grace my fears relieved
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Written by Umbrella Man

November 29, 2013 at 4:29 am

Posted in family, people

Tagged with ,

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