Friday, December 01, 2006

My God, I've Turned Into My Grandmother

Growing up in a small town in Illinois, with all my cousins and aunts and uncles firmly rooted to the same spot, too, was, as I look back on it now, a wonderful era. However, being in the midst of it, especially during that awesome, wonderful, incredible (someone else's words, not mine) period of new-womanhood, I would be restless and bored and unhappy, thinking the grass most certainly WAS greener on the other side, and if someone told me once more that it was not, I was going to come unglued!

We were all spread out in the area, as I reflect back, sort of in a circle surrounding my grandmother's apartment building, and again, as I reflect on it, that was probably part of the Grand Plan.

Grandma was incredible. If someone needed a baby-sitter, she was there. If someone needed a few extra bucks, she was there. I didn't appreciate her then.

Being in the middle of her children really is a snapshot of what she meant to them, but she had one habit that pretty much drove everyone over the edge: Ambulance run phone calls.

From where she sat, perched high above the city, she had a bird's eye view of the comings and goings of every ambulance. My family lived east of the city, so the second she knew an ambulance had left the hospital and was headed toward our house, she would call to make sure it was not coming to rescue one of US. If we were okay, she would then call the relatives that lived a little farther east to establish nobody was dying there, and on and on, until she had touched base with every eastward relative. The next ambulance run was similar. But one thing was for sure, she had raised her children under very harsh, sometimes penniless conditions, and it was only fitting that she spent a lot of her life perched up there in the crow's nest of her ship with her binoculars, keeping watch over us all. Those were good days.

I think that, after she passed away, we all expected to find some elaborate tracking system hidden in her closet with dials and compasses and those voice-enhancing satellite-looking systems that you point toward someone and can hear what they are saying from several feet away. There were no tracking devices, however, of course, and I had to just accept the fact that she loved us so much that she had developed her own radar for keeping track of us.

Everyone needs a grandmother with that radar, so I seem to, unknowingly, have taken that on with my crew here. I hear the ambulance, I immediately want to call to make sure it is not going to pick up a child or grandchild or stepchild or boyfriend. The difference is, I stifle the urge.

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