Change in programming today. My grandparents’ (mom’s parents) birthdays are in January. This year:
As you all know we will be celebrating 75 years of wonderful life. Since we can’t be together for these momentous occasions we thought of this great contest which we hope you will all take part in.
Normally, Dad tells you a story every year on his birthday. This year we would like you to tell us your favorite story about life with us. It can be from any time, as long as it has special meaning to you.
The stories will be available for all to read after we have read them. Then you can select the story you think wins the trophy.
We’re supposed to send the stories just to them, but since I’m pretty sure none of my immediate family reads my blog, I’m safe. And if they do, hah, I found you!
The pie is random.
Why post my story for the ‘bowl here? Well, I need to write a blog post since it’s Thursday, and I need to write a story, since my grandmother’s birthday is tomorrow, so here I am. The most difficult aspect of writing this story has been focusing on something extremely positive. My family’s like that–as are, I’m sure, many families–where it’s best to stick to the positives. Why? Enforced culture of perfection. Being kept sheltered because everyone loves you so much that they don’t want anything to hurt you: that’s when everything will hurt you because you have neither boundaries nor resilience, nor concept of how to set up said boundaries. When you grow up and learn how much life can eat you alive, everything’s coloured by that realisation. Anyway. That’s not part of the story. Rarely do I not have a story to tell, but I mostly have vignettes. I also severely dislike meta-discourse on discourse. It’s not relevant to the story, how much you struggled to write it. The story itself defends itself; no amount of sympathy will you win from this reader for telling me how you–the author–agonized over the writing. Yet here I am, agonizing and giving excuses. It’s not that my grandparents aren’t important to me, but I don’t have any grand stories. Especially since they’ve been retired, the summers I’ve lived with them have been structuredly unstructured. Because of spending so much time with them, I have more of an appreciation for older friends and relatives, and a love of Abbot & Costello movies (SUSQUEHANNA HAT COMPANY!!!).
And now I have my story.
My grandparents have at least three clocks that need winding and that chime on the hour, quarters, and half-hour. One time in the late ’90s when my family and I were staying with Mom-mom and Pop-pop after Thanksgiving, I think it was, I watched Pop-pop wind one of the clocks. He said, ” ‘Start at twelve, turn twice to three … at half past one, ’twill open be.'” And then, “Stephanie, Stephanie,” in this droning, melodic voice.
I asked what he was talking about and he said, “It’s an Abbot & Costello movie. Let me find it.”
That night or some time later, we began watching the movie. I stayed up to watch the waltz and see Tom hide the letter in the clock scene that started it all, but I fell asleep before the movie ended. When we watched the movie all the way through one rainy summer afternoon, the VHS on which Pop-pop had recorded the movie cut to another movie in the last five minutes of Times of their Lives. Mom-mom told me the ending, where heaven is closed because it’s George Washington’s birthday. When we found the Best of Abbot and Costello movie collections, we watched Times of their Lives first. The set for the ending was nothing like I imagined! Nevertheless, I was hooked on the duo’s skits.
In the course of watching all the Abbot and Costello movies, Mom-mom and Pop-pop began to quote the films to Sam, Mike, and me. “Is everybody happy?” they would ask, like Ted Lewis in Hold that Ghost. The only answer, of course, was “Oooo Aurora!”
And that is how my grandparents roll…Italian Easter bread.