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Category Archives: Grandma

marilyn nail polish

After putting it off for too long, I made an appointment to go to the Spa with the brightly-colored door. Winter blues and boots made me long for summer toes and a soothing pedicure. Rationing the remaining balance on my birthday gift card, I booked an appointment to be soothed, smoothed, and calluses removed.

The clientele is always different. Some people are friendly and talkative. Others close their eyes or play on their phones. Midweek, I was able to get an appointment at a convenient time. I settled in to my chair with a warm neck pillow, a glass of cucumber water, and a warm towel across my lap. All this was brought to me; no one treats me that good at home!

While warm paraffin softened my crocodile skin, a voice could be heard loudly around the Spa. “I have been to Miami. New York. L.A. Las Vegas. They always play music. This place is for Grandmas. Who doesn’t like music?”

Firstly, now that I am one, I think highly of Grandmas and have deep appreciation for the child who made me one three times over in 18 months. I think it is a great gig and hope to carry the title for a long time.

Secondly, a nice person is making a living cleaning your skin and cutting your cuticles. You could say “Please” and “Thank You.” You could have managed to keep your opinion to yourself for thirty minutes. But, no, you wanted e v e r y o n e to hear about your dissatisfaction. You complained so loudly that I could hear you in an adjacent room.

Thank you for showing how entitled, spoiled, overindulged, and irritating some people can be with no appreciation for anyone else. For me, going to the Spa was preceded by a grateful thanks to Mom and G-d for giving me a gift to be pampered. Did you enjoy your little hissy fit in front of the staff! You made the group of us there at the expensive Spa seem like bratty children who don’t appreciate what they have been given.

After listening to you rant for awhile, the technician gently told you to let your nails dry for a few minutes and she would be right back. Rather than let her quietly gather some strength, fresh air, or a bathroom break, you called out: “Can you get me a coffee with Sweet ‘n Low?” Not even a please. Oh, and by the way, she is not a waitress.

By all means, this mundane little Spa is simply too pedestrian for the likes of you who has had her nails clipped around the world. Please find some place that plays music. By all means, escape us Grandmas. Not everyone has such difficult first world problems as you. Some of us are just worried about how to keep our jobs and pay our bills. I would much rather see the world through my rose colored toenails than listen to you whine.

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Thanks for Stopping By! It means more than you know.

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anne taintor put my needs last

With Mother’s Day approaching, I am getting so much mail about gifts to buy, how to celebrate, and things to do with Mom. As we are in the transitions with my mother and grandmother, I empathize with others that are unable to celebrate on this day.  Ultimately, through good and bad, no one loves you like your mother.

I come from a long line of very strong women; I have even given birth to a couple.  The stories and memories that we share of our lineage bring smiles, tears, and laughter – especially to others who don’t have to deal with all of the other baggage! But the inventive sense of humor, creativity, and independence that each lived gives us strength when we need it.  It reminds us that they have not really left us, but remain alive in our hearts and minds with each memory.

Men may be the hunters and gatherers, but it is the mothers who cut the crusts off the sandwiches and make sure that everyone has exactly the same number of cookies.  Mothers can spend 12 hours in the warzone with toddlers, but when Dad walks in, he gets all of the attention. Motherhood is not always fair, sometimes fierce, often fractured, but it is an elemental love so deep and strong, that we persevere.

My mother gave each of us the legacy of family through stories, journals and photographs that she has researched, collected and created for us to acknowledge and remember family members that we did not get to meet face-to-face.  She grew up without grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins and therefore worked very hard to make memories, create family occasions, and document them with pictures and souvenirs.  We grew up with developing fluid in our veins. We knew that if it happened, Mom had a photo of it.  We have had more “natural” posed photographs than some, but we knew it was, and still is, done with love.

The oral history that passes from mother to child brings our ancestors to life. It creates memories and journeys to share with our own children. It is a reminder that mothers will do what they have to do in order to care for their families, and others, in a world that does not always stop to notice.

My great grandparents had to move from one country in Europe to another in order to find work and financially support their growing family.  My great grandfather went ahead to seek work, while my great grandmother waited in another country with my grandmother and her brother.  She waited until my great grandfather was settled and he was ready for them to reunite.  Each European country was tied up in its own borders, paperwork and bureaucracy.  It might be necessary to move families, but they did not make it easy and did not want to take in immigrants to swell the ranks of the social services.  My great grandmother did not let one such border crossing officer utilize his power to keep her from entering the country and beginning a new life with her family.  She was told that the paperwork was not cleared and that she could not enter the country. So, like the clever, strong woman that she was, she told her children to sit down and wait at the crossing, with the nice border patrol, while she went to find her husband and clear up any misunderstanding with the necessary documentation. 

My great grandmother was allowed to enter with her family and belongings.

My grandmother was very frugal, as was my grandfather, who carefully measured each portion and calculated every penny of their combined paychecks. In the 1950’s, my grandparents traveled to Europe, by ship, with my mother and her brother to see what was left of the lives that they had been forced to flee.  There simply was not enough disposable income for lavish meals after the expense of the tickets and the limited income they were careful to protect.  Grandma traveled with a large black purse, a seemingly bottomless trapezoid, which opened and closed with a clicking snap.  She carefully planned for their modest needs and traveled with cans of tuna.  At each restaurant where they were able to eat, the bread basket was placed on the table along with the cutlery and linens.  Each time that the waiter turned around, Grandma would swoop the entire contents of the bread basket into her large black purse, and pleasantly request more rolls.  The family dined on tuna sandwiches throughout their journey.

My mother, undaunted by her own strict and occasionally domineering mother, was unfazed at times when she sought independence.  As a teenager living in New York, my mother dreamed of cozy cottages and country climes.  She had seen a wooden rocking chair and wanted to purchase it for her room.  My grandmother felt it was unnecessary and impractical in their modest-sized apartment.  My mother was told that she could not get it. Those are fighting words for my mother.  She purchased that chair and brought it home, remarkably, on the New York subway system.  Through many incarnations, and paint colors, that rocking chair has traveled through several moves across the country and today sits in her home office. 

My mother does things on her own timetable and doesn’t let the seemingly impossible stop her. Where I am punctual, my mother found the concept of time to be more fluid. If we were supposed to be somewhere in five minutes, that was enough time for her to put on nail polish before we headed into the car.

When I was a teenager, my family moved to New Orleans for a number of years. Mom and Dad had to acclimate to the weather, so hot and humid compared to our New England winters, and become accustomed to a brand new way of life.  Both of my parents worked and had to figure out how to maneuver in their new environment while trying to find their way around the city.  In the days before Mapquest, and the difficulty in driving in the city while holding a large paper map, it was necessary to remember the minimum number of routes to arrive at your destination. On one shopping excursion, my mother had missed her turn and did not know another way to get back to the Mall.  As I was a teenager, fresh from driving lessons and my license still warm, I told my mother that the sign said “No Left Turns.”  My mother’s steely reply:  “Wanna Bet?”

How can we turn out any other way than strong, determined, caring, and possessing a wit and absurd sense of humor?

We are teachers, doctors, cooks, and personal shoppers. We are chauffeurs, social planners, bankers, and the butt of jokes.  We are tired, despairing, frustrated, elated and proud. We can be examples or warnings.  We are mental health counselors on call 24 hours a day. But wherever we are, and wherever they are, we are forever Mothers.

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Thank you for stopping by! It means more than you know.
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