I am, I’m pleased to say, a contemporary grandmother.  I married, had children who married, and they had children.  In that singular way, I accomplished this incredible feat. I’m pleased to say it because it confirms that I am still very much alive!  Some days I’m not quite so sure.  For a woman of indeterminate age, I am fairly ordinary and undaunted, which means I am loud and somehow holding on. 

 I spend my days doing the things I love – in between massive searching for objects I have temporarily misplaced like my eyeglasses or my pills.  My memory is a sieve through which each day is finely strained: Like Pablum.

My extensive leisure time is often passed walking in New York City, the adventure capital of the world – which I enjoy immensely.  I wander slowly.  And eavesdrop avidly.

 I listen often to my collection of vintage music.  I have Sinatra’s best recordings and Pete Seeger’s, too.  Not a day goes by without some of each.  Sometimes my grandchildren “listen to the funny music” to humor me.  They will perhaps learn some day; the current “pop” music they listen to – AND WATCH – is execrable, but I love them and they will learn.  I shut out current music in my mind. It’s not music.  It’s noise.

I am moderately tall, and erect, but alas, not statuesque, the result no doubt of my Hungarian peasant background.  I have long wished I was aristocratically tall, but what can one do about unselective forebears except perhaps forbear (I am much given to bad puns and worse jokes.) People often say I am a funny person. I do not choose to pursue that line of thought.  I am merely me.

 Still, I have noticed people turning to look at and admire my posture.  My skin is smooth except for many tiny lines about the eyes, lines mind you, not heavy ropy wrinkles.  My teeth, of course, are all my own, impeccably dentally assisted, and I have a warm, understanding smile not the phony just-the-lips stretch.  I smile readily; I am basically a happy person.

My brown eyes – yes, I would have adored blue or green, but those damn genes did untold mischief – are bright with bad jokes, which I have always  joyously mistaken for wit.  I am in good health, and when some mishap occurs so that disgusting bodily functions need adjusting, I take care of the problems without public acknowledgement.  It’s nobody’s business!  I even prefer not revealing much to the doctor, but  alas, often he guesses.

I neither cook nor bake.  I prefer not to.  The handsome cross-stitched sampler on my refrigerator – not embroidered by me – reads GOD BLESS BIRD’S EYE!  I like the motto: Just like fresh only faster! My household chores are done by a cleaning service, while I’m away.

I have enough money, which I NEVER discuss. An impoverished childhood left me basically stingy!  How much things cost always seems too much.  But I have learned to keep silent about my stinginess. It embarrasses other people.   All except when it comes to taking taxis!  I am congenitally unable to use anything but PUBLIC transportation.   My gifts for my grandchildren are rarely sensible. Why would they be? Their parents should provide those.  I love being a babysitter for my grandchildren.  They are truly beautiful and remarkable and I’m ready even at this late age to take on any stupid challenger who doesn’t agree!

I am something of a jokester, too, but that should be evident  by now.  I am a proud and happy though stingy GRANDMOTHER! 


About blogginggrandma

I'm 86. Legally blind. But a force to be reckoned with!
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  1. mgershun says:

    Hi, Sheila. Don and I came to NYC this weekend for exactly 22 hours – long enough to see Pippin, have dinner with his sister, and fly home to KC this morning. We took the subway uptown last night, and I thought of you — it definitely is a remarkable way to get around the city!

  2. Lauri Marder says:

    Hi, really enjoyed your piece in the Times. My mother is about the same age as you are and she is very gracious but it’s still not just perfect. When I lived in the city to try to be near her to help her out, she did not seem to understand the limits of a helper’s abilities and availability- she could not measure it, and consistently over-estimated it. In a way i’d rather that were the case than that she worried all the time about not being too dependent. It’s painful either way though. I read the happiness of your life with pleasure- the contentment that only city-dwellers seem to know these days, as family live near enough by to visit and celebrate regularly- this is no small thing. And I wanted to add a note about a friend’s mother in London, who insisted that she would “take the bus, like ordinary people do,” which told it all- she did not feel ordinary, and she had no worries about money, but it was a principle. And it’s a principle that keeps things in balance somehow- sitting on the subway with everyone is a great way to keep life in perspective, if one is up to the effort.
    Thanks again,


  3. Mary Schwartz says:

    Your essay recalled my independent mother and her struggles while foreshadowing my own need for independence while accepting support. Life is a balance to the end, no?

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