My grandmother turns 97 today. Good lord. That’s old.
She is a legend. I just spoke to her and apart from thinking I was my sister for almost the entire conversation (an easy mistake to make) she is a pistol. She told me she thinks sometimes her phone must be connected to her bathroom door, because as soon as she gets in there it rings. (The injustice!) She sleeps a lot these days, of course (if I make it to 97, I imagine I will be quite tired too; in fact, I already am), and her hearing isn’t what it used to be but, come on. Ninety-seven.
The year she was born (1917), the last Russian tsar abdicated the throne, the US purchased the Virgin Islands (formerly known as the Danish West Indies - possibly not the Danes’ wisest move), Woodrow Wilson called for “peace without victory” in Germany, then changed his mind and joined the first World War, Mata Hari was arrested and executed for espionage, zee Germans began bombing London by night, the nation of Yugoslavia was formed, and streetcars hit the streets of San Francisco.
(On a side note, why are there always so many baseball facts when you look up a year? Historically speaking, who gives a shit?)
Happy birthday, sweet sweet Mary Jane. We sure do love you.
Mmmmm, there’s nothing I love better than finding a new writer to sink my teeth into. I went to the library yesterday and checked out three books by Meghan Daum: My Misspent Youth, The Quality of Life Report, and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House. I started My Misspent Youth last night and I already have a huge nerd-crush on her. Can’t wait to read them all, and for her new book coming out in November, The Unspeakable.
I just finished reading In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, which I enjoyed so much I may be embarking on a newfound romance with historical non-fiction. I also started Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, although I can’t remember which bag I put it in so until I find it, that one’s on hold… (I ordered it after repeatedly stumbling across his rules for writing recently. The Muse poking me, I hope?)
I just started listening to The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison. It has me.
I am also listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in my car. This is the first time I have listened to any of the HP books on audio and I must say, Jim Dale is AMAZING. I may be falling down the rabbit hole once more….
What are you reading?
This summer is slipping through my fingers.
My sister and her kids came and went, although (thankfully) they are coming back.
A dear family friend succumbed quickly to illness, leaving a big, raw hole in her place, and reminding me, and everyone that knew her, how fragile life is, and how fleeting.
We are midway through a cluster of August birthdays.
Mila started kindergarten.
The days are slowly shortening, but the temperatures aren’t dropping.
Summer stretches and time contracts.
Grab it in both hands and enjoy it!
Life is too short.
I suppose if I had known my grandparents when they were in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, I would have seen striking similarities between them and my parents at every age. Just as, if I could superimpose myself now next to my mother when she was 36, I am sure I would move, speak, gesture, blink, just like her. Take her shape. I certainly hear her words coming out of my mouth, all the time. Her tone. Her tendencies. I am her, in many ways.
But of course, I didn’t know my grandparents until they were in their 60s and 70s, when my parents were in their 30s and 40s, and they did not seem so very alike. These days, though, when I see my parents (they just came for a long weekend), I am seeing my grandparents, in every way. Their expressions, the way they move, their shapes when they sit. It’s haunting, and also comforting, somehow. The continuity through generations. I think about how it must seem like yesterday that my sister and I were the same size as my girls, and how strange that one day my girls will be grown like me, and (hopefully) feel a growing urge to protect me and Sash, though from what I can’t exactly say, the way we long to protect them now.
Don’t get me wrong (Mum and Dad - I know your hackles are up if you’re reading this) - my parents are fantastic. They are healthy, fit, sharp. They travel, they read, they try new things. They are not your average retirees. And yet, they are getting older. We all are. It creeps up on us, and seems less obvious when you’re in the middle, but there it is. We are all getting older, every damn day.
I’m not dwelling on it. Just sitting with it for a moment. Then I’ll get up and keep flapping.