Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bionic Grandmother

A big "Thank You!" to those of you who spared some thoughts for my Grandmother and her surgery. I just got the phone call, that not only is she out of surgery, she is out of the recovery room, hungry (!) and asking for her reading glasses.

I also want to say (again) "Thank You" to all those people who helped to elect Barack Obama president. That may seem like an out of place comment, but the election had a lot to do with the surgery. My grandmother is hours away from her 97th birthday, and this was elective surgery. She now has a new knee (which means that both knees and one hip are replacement parts). Prior to the election, many of her conversations with me centered on her great unhappiness with the politico/social situation of the nation. Post election, many of our conversations centered on how hard it was for her to get around, and how she didn't think that was a good way to live, how she missed the opera, the ballet, the museums. (she also talked about how she missed having her own car-but she is NOT getting that back!)

My Grandmother was born in a tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in an apartment that was heated by a coal stove and lit by oil lamps. She was the first member of our family to graduate from high school, to graduate from a university (with a degree in mathematics, no less). She watched the rise of the American Empire and traveled to places that are no longer safe for Americans to visit. (I don't think she has ever been to Antarctica, but its possible I am wrong.) She taught in literacy programs, and worked to reform the machine of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn. She raised three daughters, while my Grandfather was often away, on government business. When her children were old enough to let her concentrate on her own projects, she learned to paint. Somewhere, down some corridor of the Brooklyn Museum, hangs one of her paintings, although I could not find it, the last time I was there. Somehow, she survived a year in which her husband (my grandfather) died, and then six weeks later, her oldest daughter (my mother) died. And then, not much more than a year after that, she danced at my wedding. She is the most loving and most "brook no crap" grandmother and great-grandmother out there. She lives in her own home, with her dog (and yes, people and their pets do end up resembling one another. Both dog and Grandmother are small, fluffy-haired and fierce.) And, she tells me at least once a week, that she is unhappy with me for having moved so far from her. And then we talk politics, philosophy, history and about art.

When I grow up, I want to be like her.

Happy 97th Birthday, Grandma, and congratulations on your new knee.

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