Being temporarily laid up with some mysterious pain in my back, I find myself once again in front of my pc with time on my hands and you know what that means. This story is about my amazing grandmother, my mother’s mom who we called Grammam or just Gram when we were kids. Having already raised one generation of kids – my mom and her two brothers – she found herself raising a next generation family of two of her own late-in-life girls, technically my aunts, and my sister and me in the 40’s in Long Beach, CA. She was an all seeing, all knowing force of nature who could handle anything – ANYTHING – by sheer will power and what she referred to as “elbow grease” – meaning hard work.
We lived in a very small one bedroom house, couldn’t have been more than 600 sq ft, on the rear of a two house lot. All the doors, save the bathroom, were removed to save space. Sleeping was accommodated by installing many bunk beds in the three converted garages on the property. During the war there were routinely 12 – 15 people living in this tiny outpost where Gram did all the cooking, all the washing, all the shopping, all the gardening, all the maintenance (she could build a fence, rig up a doorbell, or mend a broken chair with the best), all the cleaning, and all the mothering for two generations of kids and other relatives who lived there. The following account is typical of her unflappable nature.
When I was around 10 years old I found myself roller skating through a vacant lot, overgrown with weeds and junk. Why, you ask? Who knows, I think I may have just been taking a short cut through the lot, not sure. But the problem was, I tripped on a rock and fell on my knees, one of which happened to strike a broken Par-T-Pak (remember Par-T-Pak cola?) bottle, putting a 4 inch gash in my knee which immediately started to bleed profusely. I remember that the blood was sort of ‘pulsing’ and even at 10 years old, I knew this was not good. So I promptly skated home and presented my blood soaked knee to Gram for repair. Without a word, she proceeded to make a tourniquet out of my belt, apply it to my upper thigh, grab two dimes from the dish on the mantle where she kept loose change, and march both of us down to the bus stop at the end of the block. We caught the bus, rode about 15 blocks to St. Mary’s hospital emergency room in silence, went in, got 9 sutures put in, then returned home by bus and life continued on for both of us without further discussion. Just another day at the office for Gram and… I guess for me too