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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fringe benefit

One of the fringe benefits of being married to Mike is knowing his grandmother. Mike and his brother and cousins have called her "Buck" for I don't know how long and it seems to suit her. Growing up, Mike lived just three houses away from Buck and her husband, "Baa Baa (who passed away in 2000)."

Stories abound about Buck, making it quite clear that she has always been a strong, determined woman and a force to be reckoned with. Like the time that she almost thrashed Baa Baa with a hot fireplace poker for being a poor sport on a family Christmastime trip to Williamsburg.

For New Year's Eve 1999, she went on an African safari and ended up in the hospital with some weird illness, but says that it was the best New Year's she's ever had. She struck up a conversation with one of the Beastie Boys in Chicago, without even knowing who he was, and has a list of gentlemen callers who escort her to events on her very busy social schedule. 

A few years ago, when the Old Navy commercials featuring Carrie Donovan came out, I said "Mike, your grandmother is on TV." The resemblance is funny, aided mostly by the big black glasses. Buck's hair is swept up on top of her head, while Carrie Donovan's falls toward her shoulders. Mike used to tease that Buck kept chopsticks, spare keys, scissors and who knows what else tucked in her hair.

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When I was co-chair of the solicitation committee of the school auction, Buck easily provided a quarter of the donations -- everything from quirky wine bottle openers (though she's a teetotaler herself) to jewelry to art. She loves having the kids over to play and gets a kick out of the 30+ year old Fisher Price Sesame Street playset being the best loved of all the toys, even now. And she kept six card tables of Mike's Legos set up in her basement until after Annie was born.

She sends me the samples and free gifts from her purchases at the Clinique makeup counter. (Unlike me, Buck is never seen in public without makeup.) And she could give Barbara Bush a run for her money in the pearls department.

I had the good fortune to go to Chicago for four days with Buck a few years ago. We shopped, went to see Wicked, got in-room massages. It was divine. 

I love my own grandmothers -- NaNa, who passed away three years ago (how could that much time have passed already), and Grandma. But I think because Mike's family is so small and because he is so close to his grandmother, I'm close to her, too. We talk probably once a week.

Buck turned 91 years old last May. And let me say, I hope to be in such good shape at that age. (Heck, I'd be lucky to reach that age!) I guess when you're 91 you have earned the right to say pretty much whatever you want to say. These were a couple of the things she came up with this weekend while we were there to visit:

To Mike's mom: "Did you know that Amy is a modern woman? Yes. That's why she's showing her boobs." I promptly pulled my shirt higher up toward my neck.

To Annie during dinner: "Do you know what a lesbian is?" Before Annie could answer, I think I choked on my mashed potatoes.

Buck has sometimes wondered out loud why she is still around. And I like to think, in some small way, she's still here for me.


kimybeee said...

hilarious - enjoy grandma buck you crazy modern woman!!!

Tylaine said...

What a sweet picture! She sounds like a wonderful woman. I love the sayings at the end!!
I used to work with elderly people and they are just wonderful!