I’m writing a birthday note to my Grandfather. I’m surprising him for his 82nd birthday this Thursday. He shares his birthday with my brother, who will be turning 15. I’ve noticed handwritten notes mean the most to my Grandparents. They wrote to each other for 7 years while separated in their 20s. I don’t think I communicate how I feel about them through action/casual conversation very well. Not that I am cold or quiet, but rather that I love them so much and think so highly of them that it would seem ridiculous to act out and would be unnatural. So, I’ve reverted to letter writing. I immediately knew I wanted to write to my Grandfather, which means I also need to write my Grandmother as her birthday is just two weeks prior. He recently wrote a 70 page memoir that we are forcing him to expand [as some of our favorite stories were left out]. An Irish immigrant, LAPD cop, self-educated man, lover of Robert Frost, self-proclaimed investor.. I’ve realized with age that he is perhaps my favorite human being on the planet. His strict exterior waring off as he’s aged has probably been the biggest help in this realization. But this is secret, Grandma can’t know. And I am mustering back to my childhood as I make her a card.
Ironically, my Grandmother was the one who made the greatest impact on my life. Three days a week she’d pick me up from school. She’d sit on two pillows in the driver’s seat, [she’s a fright for worrying and this corrected her posture] huge ginormous sunglasses, and blonde blonde hair. She corrected my grammar, mid-sentence, mid-conversation, probably mid-presentation if she had the chance. We fought like baboons. Literally, like baboons. I’d run around the table, looking back, her agility and energy is beyond impressive, her voice would pierce through the walls. I didn’t want to practice piano. I’d even feign indigestion and spend the afternoon in the bathroom – just to be a child brat, though she thought of me as child star. If you think about it, really, an hour and a half piano lesson three times a week seems overkill for a 7 year old. During summer months I’d be swimming and I’d make it so my time above water was too quick for me to hear her saying “katherine.” Thinking about how quick she got at saying my name makes me laugh, but also want to smack myself. Maybe it was payback for her grammatical corrections or her forcing 4 glasses of Ovaltine per day. I think she was my outlet, and I was her’s. Classic family dynamics – it was all out of love. In fairness, she has an unhealthy obsession with me. Nowadays she gets angry if I don’t call enough, now she gets angry every time because she can’t remember when I’ve last called. Usually only two days ago. It’s the same conversation over and over and over and over and over and over.
How do you like it up there? And have you got good friends? It’s a wonder you don’t struggle academically. I commit the sin of pride everyday thinking of you. My friends can’t believe when I tell them where you are. And do you like it up there? We can’t wait for you to find a job in Los Angeles.
I don’t want to find a job in Los Angeles. I’ve been here four years, obviously I have friends. I do struggle, you just don’t remember last month.
I don’t listen or else I don’t have patience. I can’t listen or else I can’t not think about it. Its all out of love. I am so grateful for piano, so glad I have a decent lexicon, so happy I’ve learned to laugh at myself like she does. So proud I remind people of her. She’s a published author, a poet, a musician, a radio host, a consistent life of the party. She’s my favorite person too, I just can’t remember it.