Memories

I just attended a memorial service for my grandmother who was the last of my grandparents to go.  She was a great person, but strangely I had a hard time remembering my time with her.  I remember the times when she thought that I,  a girl, maybe not as frilly as she wanted me to be, was supposed to wear dresses and gussy up, so she would take me shopping to make sure I looked at least remotely like a girl.  She was a mother of 5 sons, so I have a feeling, being her first granddaughter, it was just as much fun for her as it was for me.  I remember more recent times when dementia had a hold of her.  I was barely pregnant with my third child who is 8 years younger than the oldest, and 4 years younger than the second.  All my children have the same father… my husband.  When I told her that I was expecting my third, she said quite frankly, “you sure do get around!”.  There was dead silence around the table, I am sure due to the shock of that comment, then a burst of laughter as we all realized how funny it actually was.  Still, after only a few solid memories, I had a hard time digging up more memories that I have of her.

It wasn’t until the memorial service that the memories came flooding in thanks to the wonderful testimonies from my uncles and cousins who stood up and told the audience what they remembered.  One memory was ignited when my cousin mentioned the kinds of foods my grandmother would serve.  She would often cook well-balanced meals, not too fancy, but good.  One night she decided to serve us something that was close to her heart, something that she enjoyed with her family when she was a child.

Although she had fond memories of what her family ate at the dinner table, she knew full well that her grandchildren may not have had the same fondness if they knew what it was, or where it originated from.  As my cousin described it, she tried to pull a fast one on us. 

As my cousin, my brothers and I sat at the small round table, deemed as the kids table for that night, we were served our meal.  It looked normal, a meat and potato style dinner, although the meat looked a little different.  I recall we were watched closely by our grandmother that night, which was in itself strange since she would normally sneak a bit of time at the beginning of dinner to start the dishes.  I remember her pushing us to just try a little bit of the specially prepared meat.  My brother cut a piece and put it in his mouth, chewed and swallowed it.  He’s always been the adventurous one.  Okay… he was fine, so I guessed it was okay for the rest of us to try it.

I don’t know if I was the one, my cousin was the one, or if we did it at the same time, but someone decided to turn the chunk of meat over first to examine it before it was cut and placed on our delicate palates for our expert juvenile taste critique.  That’s when the deal was broken forever, for on the other side of the meat chunk were hundreds of little taste buds!  Our grandmother tried to serve us cow tongue!  Now, after seeing those ugly taste buds looking back at us, there was no way in heck that we were going to eat that meat… ever!  My brother remembers sitting there in disgust that the meat that he had already chewed and swallowed turned out to be something so unappetising.

It’s funny how a night that was so gross and horrifying turned out to be a fond memory, something that we now laugh about together.  I guess in a funny kind of way, we did share our grandmother’s fond family memories.

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Hypocrite I am

I am a stickler with cell phone etiquette.  It is very rude, I think, to answer your cell phone when you are in a face to face conversation with someone else.  It is equally rude when you are out with someone specifically to spend time with them, but then make a social call to someone else.  It is rude to text, or play a game on the phone while at a meal with someone, particularly with friends at a restaurant.  It is just as rude to not put it on silent when in a movie, or other activity that requires full attention.

I am guilty however, for breaking my rules once in a while.  I have yet to pull the restaurant one, or the social call one as far as I know though.  Usually, when I end up answering the phone during a conversation is when I feel the call is either very important, or if it’s from my husband. 

So, today the kiddos and I attended a special event.  A very talented story-teller traveled a long way out to our in-the-middle-of-nowhere town to present his stories, very well I must say.  In the middle of one of his stories a loud obnoxious phone began to ring.  I wondered, “who forgot to turn their phone off or at least to silent mode??? “, ” Who had the nerve?”  Oh, wait!  It was me!!!  The one who harps on how cell phones should be used!  I sheepishly and frantically scrambled to find my phone in my bag to hit the silent button.

That’s when an awful event came back to me.  One event that I thought I had shoved so far back in my mind that I wouldn’t ever, ever remember it again.  It was September 2001.  The terrorist attacks just happened and were fresh and very raw on everyone’s minds.  It was the evening, and I had just gotten off of work and looked forward to attending the Oktoberfest opening festivities that had been decided to carry on, despite the horrible things that our country had to go through at the time.  I worked in a small town, but when the Oktoberfest was held each year, I swear the population more than tripled.  I made it there in time for the beginning prayers, before the girls did their May pole dance.  I was able to find a good seat, almost in the front which was like striking gold.  I had a great view, not needing to bob around everyone’s heads to see the dancers like I usually had to do when I was forced to stand behind a crowd, several people thick.

Nothing could make me move from my golden seat (alright, it wasn’t really gold, it was a silver bleacher).  The huge crowd became silent.  It was not just time for the normal prayer,  it was extra special this day.  The prayer was for all those who were involved in the horrible 9/11 attacks.  I bowed my head in silence as everyone else did, and listened to the special prayer.  Not more than two sentences in, did my new cell phone begin to ring!  To me, it sounded like it was connected to the loud speakers, and two huge red arrows floated above my head pointing directly at me. 

I started to panic internally, as I quickly decided to put my poker face on and looked surprised and slightly disgusted with the fool who was letting her phone ring on and on and on. You see, the phone was new to me.  I had no idea at that point that I could just hastily push a button, any side button, to silence it.  I continued to bow my head, hoping nobody would notice my stupidity and unintended rudeness.  I was too embarrassed to admit to this peace-ruining crime, and there was no way I was going to let go of my golden seat! 

Thankfully, the prayer continued on and finished peacefully.  I got to see the dancers in their fancy dresses, and the boys in their liderhosin (I had trouble spelling this word, and hope that I got it right) do their dance before I slinked out early, hopefully avoiding the likely livid Oktoberfest visitors whose special prayer I had ruined.

You would think that I would have learned after that traumatizing event, but after today, it appears that I have not.  Yet, I go on, harping on about cell phone etiquette… oh, the hypocrite I am.