Wednesday, July 05, 2006

my fourth

My family always has a big throw down on the fourth to celebrate my grandfather's birthday. Yesterday was his eighty-sixth. He opened his presents, ate cake, and then drove home to watch the Braves game in peace when he had grown tired of being around all of us. It was a hoot.
My ninety-two year old grandmother from the other side of the family always joins us, though she no longer has the option of controlling her own vehicular destiny and must therefore come and go as folks are able to bring and then take her back home. Actually, she never really had the whole vehicular destiny option anyway, as a minor fender bender on her second day of driving back in the late nineteen-thirties left her too afeard to ever again climb behind the wheel of a car.
This was probably all for the best. No one is really sure if she ever made it to five feet at any point in her in her ninety-one years, and the inability to see over the steering wheel would've only led to an increasing number of fender benders.
Anyway, Father Camino generally spends the morning of the fourth smoking ribs or grilling shrimp and chicken and leaves the privilege of picking Grandmother Camino up to me. I used to dread this sort of thing, but Grandmother Camino has been much more interesting to talk to since she got that hearing aid for her eighty-ninth birthday. She lost a great deal of her hearing after being out in the cold too long one day when she was in her mid-sixties and then figured she was too old to worry about doing something about it. She changed her mind as her ninetieth birthday approached.
Most of the conversations before the hearing aid were exactly the same. She would ask about work and I would answer her. She would then stare at me patiently and I would answer her again. She would then look confused and nod and I would yell my answer at her.
Yelling at my grandmother never felt right. She had a long career as a special ed teacher and then continued to do volunteer work with special ed kids for years after retiring. She never misses a service at the downtown Methodist church and even manages to still do some volunteer work through them. She is a saint, and I never much cared for having to communicate things to her in the same style used by drill sergeants and the lead singers of death metal bands.
So it was that we were all relieved when she finally accepted Father Camino's decades old offer of a hearing aid for her birthday. In no time she was finally hearing what the preacher was saying at church, having actual conversations with friends and family who have been taking her patient stares for years, and making phone calls to other friends and family far away. She even stopped calling me Roy.
However, this also had drawbacks.
It wasn't long after I had picked her up and started heading back in the direction of the Camino Compound yesterday that she turned and said...
Grandma: It sure is hot already.
Rex: Yep. Should be in the mid-nineties before too long.
Grandma: I saw Al Gore on Larry King talking about global warming. Do you think there's anything they can do about that?
Rex: Uh...maybe. Science was never really my forte.
Grandma: (staring patiently)
Grandma: (looking confused, begins to nod)
This was not a heated political discussion. I merely noticed at this point that she had neglected to put in her hearing aid that morning. This unfortunately kept me from taking the conversation in a direction that would have calmed her fear of the world's impending doom or subdued any feelings that her near century of steady hairspray usage had anything to do with it.
That isn't what the fourth is about anyway. The fourth is about beer and BBQ and fireworks booming loudly enough to compensate for any forgotten hearing aids among the audience members.
Thanks, Al. Grandma hardly touched her beer yesterday.


Blogger newscoma said...

Well, at least she had a beer not to touch.
This is always a good thing, giving Grandma hopps and barley options.

6:13 AM  

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