Well, 2 actually. One is my wildly festive Aunt, who is pretty much game for anything, including a drive with me to the wilds of northern Michigan in a treacherously foggy January. She made it possible for me and my son to see my Grandmother one last time…for more on that you can click on Free Bird.
But the trip also enabled us to see my mischievous 90 year old maternal Grandfather who is notorious, infamous, and other adjectives as well, due to his propensity to rile up little kids and adults alike. He teases and teases and teases relentlessly. No one is spared. No one.
- Throughout my entire childhood he would introduce me to random people all the time (the check out clerk, some guy on a boat, the slightly odd man who fixed his car). I would stand around bored (remember I was anywhere from 3-present) for 15 minutes or so while he talked to this person about this or that, and then he would inevitably ask me, “Hey! Who do you like better? ME or this guy?” If I could add up the amount of time I’ve spent in my life looking at the floor with a polite smile on my face while I said, “Well, this guy, obviously,” I would have probably a year of my life back.
- A few years back he was introduced to G’s lovely and very attractive God Mother. He turned to me in an accusatory manner and said, “Betsy!! What were you talking about? She’s not bad looking at all.” You would be incorrect if you thought that was the first time he’d pulled that trick on me.
- He also had a penchant for sticking mysteriously wet fingers into people’s ears while he said, “Gooby Gooby Gooby.” Now you may think by people I mean children, but no, I mean people. All people. While children were included, adults were not spared from these attacks. In fact, legend has it that many a relative has been goobied on their wedding day, and the more they outwardly disliked it, the more he delighted in doing it.
I was trepidatious when we arrived as I knew much of his memory is gone and how his physical prowess has dwindled. I knew he may not have recognized me, and the sight of my Aunt may have confused him. She is my father’s sister after all, and while my parents are amicably divorced, he hadn’t seen my father in years.
“Hey,” he beamed, “I know you!” He glanced over at my Aunt and said, “Who’s this?”
“It’s my Aunt, Grandpa, remember? Dad’s sister. Remember Dad? Bill-George?”
My father’s name is George William III. His father was the II, and called George. To minimize confusion, my Father is called Bill. So naturally my Grandpa decided he would call him Bill-George. At the mention of his name, he came up blank. He looked out over the lake while the tentacles of his brain circuitry cast nets out over a lifetime of stored information, searching…
After a good 90 seconds, he turned back to me, a sneer of mock malevolence on his face, “Bill-George? That crabby bastard!”
Then he howled with laughter. We were in.
“Hey G,” I quickly asked, “who do you like better? ME, or GGpa?”
“GGpa,” he said instantly.
“What?” I sputtered, “How do you know with such certainty?” I turned to my grandfather, “Did you call him up ahead of time and prep him?”
“Well,” he grinned magnanimously, “obviously I didn’t have to.”
Now, my other gal in Kalamazoo is my 93 year old paternal Grandma who is so sharp and so spry, I think she may be an alien. In fact, she talks to her older sister every Saturday night for 2 hours and I think she’s an alien too.
So in addition to enjoying her fabulous company (she keeps me up to date on all things late night television—in fact, she basically introduced me to Craig Ferguson), we decided to have a Downton Abbey viewing party. We ordered a pizza, she made her famous wilted lettuce salad that tastes like happy childhood memories. Oh and then there was this pillow fight:
Our next stop was Cleveland.