Well Dressed NephewYesterday, while going through my inbox, amongst the fan mail and whatnot, I noticed an e-mail from my Dad's girlfriend (faithful readers will remember that my parents divorced many years ago). My darling nephew had his picture in the local paper, he was shoveling his Great-Grandma's driveway - my dearest Grandma that I talk to each morning at 7:00 A.M.
I suppose that this picture was such a great and wonderful thing to me because I have only actually seen him in person three times in my whole life. He is funny, silly, and a typical 4 year old in many ways. More often then not he gets on the phone with me when I call my Grandma. He gets up early because he goes to Nursery School. He is at my Grandma's house because he lives with her. In the 21st century (and not that it hasn't happened in other times)we are afforded with the notion of the "non-traditional family structure", and here we have a living, breathing, functional portrait of just such a thing.
The picture was snapped by a local newspaper photographer who was driving back to the newspaper, and happened to see my brother and his son shoveling. Warm fuzzy human interest story just waiting to happen. So, this showed up in the paper the next day. And in true form, he has told almost everyone he has met in department stores, restaurants, and the grocery that he "is in the paper".
My Grandma tells me everyday how much he reminds her of me. Sometimes she accidentally calls him Matthew when she's talking. I don't mind, I like it when Grandma gets into "reminisce mode".
You see, Grandma actually lived with my family until I was in the first grade.
My Grandma and Grandpa owned the big country house that I grew up in. When my parents married, my Dad bought the house from his parents. Grandpa moved into the city when I was a baby to start his business, a large automotive repair & maitenance chain. Grandma stayed on. She had a big bedroom on the second floor. My brother and I shared a bedroom on the second floor next to grandma's, divided by a big walk in closet, and a hall way. We were not supposed to bother Grandma.
One of the things that I have been my whole life, besides a nancy boy, is a morning person. Grandma was too. The only two in the house in fact. No body knew that I used to sneak into grandma's room. Who else was up at 5 A.M.? I'll tell you. No one.
She would read me the newspaper, and we would work on crossword puzzles. We only used red pen. We would drink coffee. Why not? We ate caramel and chocolate covered peanut clusters from the local chocolate shop. We fed the stray cats outside, putting their food in my mothers good mixing bowls. Then I would get ready for school, and I'd pitch a fit if she wouldn't walk me down the driveway to the bus.
Then the summer following 1st grade, Grandma moved to the city with Grandpa. So, I did too. But only for summer break. This became a standing tradition. Last day of school, pack my suitcases, and go to Grandma and Grandpa's.
We went to the beach almost every day. When we didn't, we went to the duck pond, shopping, to visit cousins who were also out of school, and lots and lots of restaurants. My last summer was after my Junior year of high school. Senior year, I had to get ready for college.
Then Grandma and Grandpa would come visit me. On Saturdays. Most people thought they were my parents. Grandpa was very tall and thin, and handsome. He had an Errol Flynn moustache. He had jet black hair, and always wore dress shirts with a cardigan. We'd go out to lunch, go to the park, and somehow when hugging our goodbyes, Grandpa could always get a few $50 bills tucked into my palm.
Then I moved to England. Grandma and Grandpa wrote to me. Grandma wrote weekly, Grandpa wired money into my account to make sure I could travel while living there. This was very important to both of them.
When I moved back. I graduated. I moved to Chicago.
In 2000, Grandpa was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I flew home a few days after he found out. I am glad I did. He died 5 weeks later.
Now Grandma lived by herself in a 3 story home. I was 663 miles from home. But we still called each other everyday. At 7 A.M. This has been going on now for 24 years.
My nephew is 4. He grasps irony. He likes to make Grandma laugh. She reads the paper to him in the morning now. He sneaks her coffee, as she now realizes that a 4 year old shouldn't have his own cup. He's a morning person. He feeds the stray cat that he introduced to me this summer. He named her Edda. She drives him to nursery school - no busses for the city kids. Plus he's too young. He got his picture in the paper when he was 4. I was 5 when I had mine in the paper for the first time.
I sent Ronald Reagan a get well card when he was shot by John W. Hinckley, Jr. (I know I know...just shut up.)
The WDL tends to relate everything in some way, shape, or form to being a librarian - or the field of librarianship. I grew up going to the library. My Mom made sure that this happened. I still remember getting my first library card. I actually got to print my own name on the card. I carried it in my own baby murse. (a red canvas tote that I carried at all times. It said "RED BAG" on the side, and had a pocket for chapstick. super).
Grandma kept me in books. She bought them for me. I had a whole wall of them as a child - especially my beloved glossy, yellow covered Nancy Drew books. I remember when I gave them all to my cousin Kirstin, she was so proud of me. She went out and bought me my first Agatha Christie book. I had graduated into "mature reading". That first book turned into 100's - which comprise to this day a large part of my personal library.
I think my nephew is in good hands. Grandma is sure he'll turn out just like me - but I think he's going to like the ladies. How much would I love to have another librarian in the family?
Moral of this blog: I'm late calling my Grandmother.