This weekend, my father and I are taking Kidlet on her first airplane ride (for fun we decided to fly rather than drive--it comes out almost equal for fuel price). Beyond the fun of catching her first reaction to the whole airport/airplane thing, we are going to Boise for a purpose. The occasion is my paternal grandmother's 90th birthday.
My family lived a good 8-hr drive away from her and the aunties and uncles when I was a kid, so we spent at least one car trip per year cramped into the back of our 2-door Opel, crossing the eastern Oregon desert. We had no ipods. We had no am/fm radio. We had no DVD players. We had a pad of paper and a pencil...and Mom's "claw" coming at us from the front if we misbehaved.
But I digress.
Grandma possesses a talent of verbal digression unequalled by anyone I have ever met. She will be telling a story and at any introduction of a new person into the tale she will go through their immediate family naming birthdates, wedding dates, children's names, who died of what disease and when--and jump right back into the tale she left without missing a beat. It's a lot to take in...Grandma can talk your ear off. But she can be fascinating to listen to. There is no way to capture Grandma by typing about her--you can never hear the cadence of her speech, and the little words she throws in "Well, gosh!" and the names she cycles through to get to the right one when interrupted "Ry--Stev--Jod--Nathan!"
A few years back, I believe at her 85th B-day party, she remarked that she numbers her decendants at 77, with six living children, twenty-three grandchildren and you can imagine how many great-grandchildren. The McCradys are a big clan. She says, "Who know when Daddy and I were having all that fun it would lead to this!"
Thirteen things about Grandma McCrady
1. She whistles beautifully. Many times I have been regaled with the tale of how the pastor of her church requested that she whistle one of the hymns one day.
2. She plays the organ at her church. Still. Despite fingers twisted from arthritis.
3. She survived breast cancer--and will happily show you the scars and tell you the stories.
4. Her first child was stillborn and her next six were not. Stories about these yahoos abound.
5. She almost did not give Grandpa the time of day--he stood her up on their first date.
6. Bowling and Bingo are her favorite games. She likes a good hand of cards too.
7. She taught me that when baking, if the recipe calls for both oil and water, that you measure the oil first then use the warm water to help rinse the cup when you measure the water.
8. After Grandpa died in 1986, she could not bear to sleep in their bed alone, and began sleeping on the couch instead.
9. Grandma has a sharp mind and a phenomenal memory for names and dates.
10. She dislikes traveling.
11. She sees value in everything.
12. Her pride is the fact that among all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, not one of us has anything negative to say about any of the others.
13. She's feisty enough to outlive us all.