Alex Recommends: Mother’s Day Edition

Today is mother’s day!  And so, today I recommend grandmas.  Obviously, I have the best grandma ever in the entire world (see below), but I still recommend yours because she might be a close second.

I don’t have any grandpas, I only ever met one and he’s been gone since I was about eight years old.  I do have two grandmas, though, so I count myself lucky – and this one in particular is just fantastic.  She is the warmest, sweetest grandma you’ll ever meet, and she is also hilarious.  For example, when describing a cousin of mine who is very good at saving money, she said: “He pinches a quarter so hard the eagle shits in his hand!”  I could not stop laughing.  This grandma, she is most excellent.  In addition to being hilarious, she also gives out candy and wonderful hugs in true grandma fashion.

My favorite grandma moment is from when my mom and my aunt decided to finally tell her that I’m gay, and that Liz isn’t my “roommate,” as they’d been saying.  This happened about a year after grandma met Liz, and my grandma’s response to my mom and aunt’s very nervous revelation was pitch-perfect: “Oh hell!  You think I don’t know that?  I’m old, not stupid!

She and I are a lot alike actually – she, like me, likes to sneak out in the middle of the night before Thanksgiving and eat all the pecans off the top of the pecan pie someone made.  This is excellent, because it’s much better to get in trouble with her than to get in trouble alone.

And let me tell you – my grandma is a hell of a tough woman.  She is 91 years old (but she looks no older than 70!) and has survived all sorts of serious health problems.  She also has survived a tough life, growing up poor in an Irish Catholic mining community in Pennsylvania.  A coal miner’s daughter, she married a scientist she met at a “mixer dance” and followed him out to Washington when he was assigned to work on the Hanford nuclear project in Kennewick.  Although she was never able to afford an education, she served her country by working at the Hanford plant without even knowing what she was doing, on any job they would offer her – she worked so hard she was promoted almost every year.

She worked so hard, along with my grandpa, that they made enough money to send my mom off to Stanford, where she met my dad.  I’m proud to say my family on her side came from poor, hard working coal miner roots, and within 1 generation of my grandma setting her sights on a better life, my mom was at Stanford, then at UW Medicine in the first class of women graduates.  My grandma is so kickass, you guys.

Her health isn’t so great anymore (but she’s doing great for 91!) – but she’s quick to remind you that even though she’s in a wheel chair, her mind is just fine, thank you.

My grandma  has amazing stories to tell, and she surprises me all the time with her wisdom and kindness.  So today, I recommend talking to your grandma if you are lucky enough to have one – we forget too often that old people are worth talking to – and I bet that if you sit down with your grandma and have a chat, you will be proud to be part of the family she helped create.