When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's your birthday?
Grandma and I were walking back from services when I saw a big, almost-full moon shining brightly down on 2nd Ave. When I pointed out the moon to Grandma, she looked up at it and got excited. She said, “Wow! Beautiful! But after all, the moon knows my birthday is next week so it had to say come and out say hello.”
We recently found someone to spend time during the day with Grandma to help her around the house. Grandma was worried that they wouldn’t have anything to do or talk about, so I bought a chess set for them and Grandma is teaching her new friend to play.
Grandma was a middle school math teacher for many years in New York City, and was a brilliant chess player. When I was 10 I came for a visit and we would play. In one match we had this exchange after one of my moves:
Grandma: Darling, you don’t want to move there.
Me: Why not? You can’t take my piece if I move it there.
Grandma: That’s right, I can’t take that piece now. But if you move there, I’ll take your Queen five moves from now…
Not that I’m such a great player, but I’ve never even come close to beating her. We played a few weeks ago and Grandma beat me soundly, humming the whole time. The only way I knew I made one good move is that she stopped humming momentarily after my move, considered the board, and then made her next move and started humming again.
So I mentioned at friday night services to a couple of people that Grandma had been playing chess again. The President came over to Grandma to talk about chess.
President: Fay, I hear you’re playing chess. If it’s ok, I’d love to come over and play sometime.
Grandma: Oh, I haven’t played in forever…
Me: Grandma! You’ve been playing the whole week! Are you hustling right now?!
After power came back to Grandma’s neighborhood, Dad and I packed up the bags and took Grandma on the trek back to the city. Since it’s a long walk, we took a car service from my apartment to the subway at Borough Hall in downtown Brooklyn. On the subway, a young dude gave up his seat for Grandma, and my Dad gave the guy a fist-bump to say thank you. The dude returned a ‘chin’ to my Dad in recognition.
When the train arrived to Union Square, Grandma got off the train and stopped in place. She put her hands out in welcome, blew kisses, and said, “Hello New York! Mwah mwah mwah mwah mwah!”
"If they were wondering about the value of living so long when it meant facing the death of everyone they grew up with, you can hardly blame them. Even with the miraculous enhancements sure to come in the next decades, longevity is a mixed blessing."
I’ve often thought about the same thing when I think about Grandma. So many amazing things can be said for living to a ripe, old age. But there are the downsides, too. This article really resonated with me as someone who lives with a centenarian. I hope you like it, too.
A few weeks ago Grandma and my aunt went away for a lovely week in the country in the Berkshires. When Grandma got back I asked if she had fun and she said, “Every day, too much to see!” I think these photos prove she enjoyed it more than she was letting on…
It’s all quiet in Grandma HQ this week as she is away on vacation in the Berkshires. It’s weird to come home after work to an empty house and all of the usual ruckus. In fact, it’s kind of scary being in that big place all by myself. But I’m glad Grandma’s getting out and seeing some things and hopefully enjoying the nature, especially since winter is right around the corner and her leaving the house becomes more limited.
If my aunt actually had a camera phone I’d ask her to send some photos, but she’s old school and uses a crummy 35 mm camera that takes terrible pictures. So you’ll all just have to imagine how cute she is looking out into the rolling Berkshire Mountains and eating all sorts of yummy food.
I spent exactly 7 hours and 46 minutes in NYC this past Saturday, having flown into Boston from the West coast the day before. I started off by taking a picture of Grand Central Station and posting on Facebook.
Which leads to Kristina commenting that I should come visit her grandma. To which I respond that I wish I could, but my tight schedule would only allow me maybe 30 min, around 4pm, and only if they live between two very specific destinations within Manhattan. So, in all likelihood, as much as I would LOVE to meet her grandmother, it would be crazy to try to pull off.
I mean, who gets a generic invite comment on FB and responds with a very time constrained, location specific request in return? THIS girl.
But sometimes, stars do align even when you make such exacting wishes. Or, pulling off crazy is just something that one does when you are a fan of a certain centenarian.
At approximately 4:10pm, I crossed the line from blog fan to groupie stalker fanatic when I showed up at Kristina’s door per her directions. We hadn’t seen each other in 17 years, when we were in high school together half a lifetime ago. With the limited time I had, we gave each other the uber-highlight-reel version of our adult lives over iced coffee. And then I asked Kristina to take this picture:
Here Grandma May sits, more than three times my age. She must have been laughing on the inside listening to Kristina and I talk about how weird it is to meet again as adults and marveling about how quickly time flies.
As if we have any idea what we are talking about.
And yes, all of you fans out there, Grandma May is as sweet and awesome and little and wonderful in person as she is on the blog. And totally unfazed by this random girl showing up on her doorstep, insisting on having her picture taken with Grandma. Instead, after saying hello, the first thing Grandma May says to me: “Eat something.”
I was so excited (and admittedly feeling a little shy, considering the situation) that I totally forgot to insist on a picture with Kristina.
We’ll take one next time? And maybe before another 17 years passes by?
Grandma May, thank you for the iced coffee! It was so great to meet you in person!
Grandma and I were sitting in the park across the street from her building, digesting our lunch from Little Poland. It was the tuesday market, so Grandma kept elbowing me in the side and then pointing at the stands.
Grandma: “Look, they have all these wonderful vegetables. Don’t you want anything?”
Me: “Grandma, we just shared a chicken cutlet and a cheeseburger. I can’t eat anything more.”
Grandma: “Ach! You don’t know what you’re missing.”
We sat for a bit more, watching the market and people come and go. There were quite a lot of people with ice cream from 16 Handles. Grandma noticed all the people and said “that place is pretty good, but not this late in the day.”
She then looked at her watch, and elbowed me again in the side.
Me: “Ready for what?”
Grandma: “Wait for it. Listen!”
Just as I thought Grandma was being a little crazy, the bell tower rang with a single clear note. Grandma smiled.
Bell tower: “GONG!”
Bell tower: “GONG!”
Bell tower: “GONG!”
Bell tower: “GONG!”
She then looked around the park, shrugged her shoulders, and got up to leave.
Grandma: “You see that? And all of a sudden, the day is gone!”
Most of the time when Grandma is watching tv she has the volume really loud. But even Grandma has her limits; we were watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri (don’t judge, it was all that was on) and Grandma said, “Make the volume lower, that man is too loud!”
Grandma and I met up last week to take care of some errands around the neighborhood and her apartment. While in the apartment, I noticed that the charger for her cell phone was unplugged from the wall, which is unusual. When I asked Grandma about it, she became a little defensive.
Me: “Grandma, why is the charger out of the wall?”
Grandma: “Oh, that thing! The phone is gone, so I unplugged the charger.”
Me: “What do you mean the phone is gone? Did you misplace it?”
Grandma: “Misplace it? What do you take me for? You think I would misplace something as important as the phone? Come on. I’m telling you, it’s gone.”
Me: “Is it in your purse?”
Grandma: “You don’t think I looked there? I’ve looked everywhere. I’m telling you - either someone took it, or it grew legs and walked away.”
Me: “It grew legs and walked away? Come on, Grandma. You must have misplaced it.”
Grandma: “I would never misplace it. I’m telling you, it grew legs and walked away.”
I started to look around the apartment for the phone, but Grandma waved her hand and called out to me.
Grandma: “I already looked. Stop! Come, let’s go to Little Poland.”
A few days later, my phone rang. When I went to answer, I saw that it was Grandma calling from her cell phone.
Me: “Hi Grandma!”
Grandma: “Hi darling!”
Me: “I see you found your cell phone.”
Grandma: “Oh, yes! You know, it was under the bed near the bedside table.”
Me: “Oh yeah? Well I’m glad you found it.”
Grandma: “Yes! It decided to walk back. Isn’t that wonderful? So, how are you?”
Grandma and I met for lunch and talked on the street for a few minutes about where to eat. I thought we should go to Little Poland since it would be easier for her to get her coffee. But Grandma said she wanted to go where I wanted to go to eat. I told her I wanted to go to Little Poland. ”No! You have to pick somewhere else. I know you’d rather eat somewhere else.”
So we walked to down the block to a sushi restaurant I’ve been eyeing for quite a while. I told Grandma they had tea but no coffee, and she said was fine with it. We entered, and I ordered a yellowtail with scallions roll, and a bento box with teriyaki chicken.
Grandma thought the chicken was good, but didn’t think much of the rolls. ”Too much rice. Why do they eat so much rice?”
Grandma and I got together for lunch last week. As per usual, Little Poland was our destination. Grandma had her coffee with milk and sweet-n-low, and I decided to have a coke, which elicited raised eyebrows.
Grandma: “You don’t want coffee today?”
Me: “No, the coke will be good.”
Grandma (taking a drink of her coffee): “Hmmp.”
We had our usual chit-chat - traffic on 2nd avenue, the weather, news events, and the Olympics (“When I played volleyball as a girl, we didn’t jump as high or hit the ball as hard as they do now!”). Even though I didn’t want coffee, I drank some of Grandma’s coffee.
Me: “Sorry Grandma, I’ve been stealing sips of your coffee.”
Grandma (taking another drink of her coffee): “I saw.
I noticed on my coke can that there was a Mets insignia as a special promotion.
Me: “Grandma, take a look at the can. It has a Mets sign on it.”
Grandma (again, drinking her coffee): “Mets? I wouldn’t touch it! I want the Yankees to win. You know that!”
My aunt and uncle were in town last weekend visiting from LA. As an outing, the four of us went to see the sunday matinee of One Man, Two Guvnors. Everyone was excited as James Corden was the lead, and he had just won the Tony award for best actor in a play.
When we arrived, there was a notice that there would be one substitution on the day, and that Brian Gonzales, the understudy for James Corden, would be playing the lead.
No need to be disappointed though, as the understudy was excellent. Grandma mentioned afterward the show “I wonder if the regular actor would be as good? I doubt it.”
My favorite part was at the end of the show. Everyone in the theatre had stood up to give the understudy a well deserved standing ovation. Grandma leaned forward and shouted at the man in front of her, “sit down! Sit down! I can’t see!” I told Grandma he was giving the actors a standing ovation, and she said “so what? I still can’t see!”