Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Me

Growing up, there were two people in the entire world who I thought really understood me, just two people who really got what I was all about and understood and cared and realized the rest of the world didn’t really get me. Neither of these people was around as often as I would have liked. Never did I ever have any direct conversation with them about the fact that they got me like no one else. Somehow though I knew. I knew that they saw inside of me in a way no others did. They saw who I really was, understood who I really was, and appreciated me for who I really was. Neither of them ever tried to change me. Both of those people are dead now, have been for many years, and so far in my life I have found nobody else who can understand me the way those two did. Maybe it was because I carried a little of each of them within me. Maybe it was because they took the time to really know me. Maybe it was because they were kindred spirits and more like me than I ever realized at the time.

The two people about whom I’m writing are two of my grandparents – my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandfather. Interestingly, these two people while having some commonalities in background were mostly night and day, particularly their personalities, at least the sides of their personalities they showed to me as I grew up.

Grandma was as steady as granite. She knew what needed to be done and set about doing it. I never heard her complain about anyone or anything. There just wasn’t time in her day for it, just as there was little time in her day for anything that didn’t further the running of the farm. I rarely knew her to take a break, and even if she sat down she was working on something, perhaps making a quilt or mending clothes or crocheting a doily or snapping green beans for dinner or pitting cherries for pie. If she sat without working it was likely because she was eating a meal or visiting with neighbors who dropped by. Even then, though, she’d be up and down to take care of one thing or another.

On the other hand, Granddaddy was a great lover of fun and jokes and tall tales. He wasn’t afraid of hard work, but he didn’t go out of his way to look for it either. He liked to sit and talk and tell stories of his adventures as a small town cab driver and the people he carried here and there. Nothing made him happier than to make his grandchildren laugh and squeal with delight as he teased them and played with them. He didn’t like to wear his teeth unless he was working, and he always took them out to eat which seemed backwards to everybody but him. Also, he liked what he called the “fat meat” from a steak or a roast. While everyone else was eating the lean meat he would eat the fat that he had cut off before the meat was served. If nothing else, Granddaddy was a character, and to me as a child he seemed larger than life not at all because of his stature (I think he was 5’ 9”) but because of his way of being, his expressive gestures, his boisterous humor, and his zest for living life.

For all their differences though these two people seemed to get me. Even if they didn’t understand me (although I certainly felt they understood me) they at least accepted me for who I was and never tried to change me or improve me. Neither of them ever commented on my weight. Neither of them ever spoke down to me as though as a child I could never understand adult conversations. Neither of them treated me as though I were anything other than a full fledged person, worthy of dignity and respect. I told secrets to both of them, secrets they never shared with anyone else. I shared lots of one on one time with each of them whenever I had the chance and would tell them of my dreams for my future. They never laughed or scoffed at any of my ideas but would encourage me to reach for every dream. They wanted so much for their grandchildren to have wonderful lives. They were both very encouraging to me, and interestingly, it was their acceptance of me just as I was that was most encouraging. I didn't have to change a thing to be just fine in their eyes. All I had to do was be me, whoever I happened to be at that point in time, and whoever I chose to become as I matured. When I was with either of them I was okay. I felt that it was okay to be me and to reach out for my dreams because they supported that notion in me. At other times I was shunned and the outcast and not good enough, but with either of them I was just fine the way I was.

I loved them more than any of my other relatives. I did not appreciate them when they were here nearly as much as I should have. I miss both of them, particularly Grandma. She was such a role model to me of what a woman could be – steadfast, strong, competent, compassionate, gentle, and appreciative. I wish I could be just a fraction of what she was.

If I were a real writer I would have some nice summarizing paragraph to close this out. As it is, with me just a lowly accountant who loves numbers way more than words, I’ve got nothing but the tears that keep forming unbidden as I write. I’ll end this post like I used to end papers I wrote in grade school:



Sailor said...

Perhaps that's the best ending of all, because if you let it take you back to grade school, you get to hang onto the feeling of being loved for who you are, by two special, caring people.

And that, as far as I've been able to see in my life, is a pretty wonderful, and rather unusual thing. I've been blessed with two people that fit in the 'never tried to change me' category- one cousin, my best guy friend, and one especially dear gal-pal friend (she's an honorary guy, or I'm an honorary woman, when we're together)... and as I read this, all I could think of was making sure that I take a moment to tell them how I appreciate that friendship.

Thank you for sharing this- really really neat.

Desmond Jones said...

Grandparents can be precious for that very reason. Sometimes, it seems, the 'harmonic resonances' in our DNA can seem to skip a generation. . .

Funny that you had one grandparent from each parent, with whom you had that bond. . . If they had married each other, instead, might they have had you, only a generation sooner?

My WordVer is 'undem'. Which, I am certain, has nothing whatsoever to do with my politics. . . ;)

Trueself said...

Sailor - Glad you enjoyed it and glad it reminded you to thank those special people in your life.

Des - Hmm, talk about your hypothetical questions! In actuality, they were so different I imagine one would have killed the other had they married one another. :-)