Monday, November 05, 2007

Just another visit...

I typically come away from a visit to Grandma Durham’s with a few things: a piece of jewelry she didn’t want, a spritz of perfume she thinks is nice, a Cummings chocolate she swears is new but I believe has been in the fridge for months, and other random things she doesn’t want to keep anymore. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I leave $50 richer.

My sister and I went to see Grandma Durham on Saturday. It’s usually a good idea to bring someone along so she doesn’t focus all her attention on you.

I remember one time, I brought my friend Josh Peters to see Grandma. She was so excited to see me with a boy that she focused all her energy on him which was great. From that visit came one of my favorite Grandma Durham moments ever.

“What is your name?”
“Josh what?”
“Josh Peters.”
“Oh! Do you know Josh England?”

Yeah Grandma, all the Joshes know each other.

Anyway, the purpose of this last visit was for me to practice her piano. I brought my sister Lisa who brought her 2 year-old, Jack. Before I went into the other room, Grandma asked me if I had eaten lunch. I said no, and she excitedly walked to her fridge to get me a Dannon Activia. She told me it would help me with my digestion. There are two things I love about this: a) I expressed no concern for my digestion, and b) a 4 oz yogurt was her solution to my not having anything for lunch.

After lunch, I went into the other room to practice and let Lisa and Jack entertain Grandma. But Grandma, giving equal attention to all, came in and told me how she LOVES that piece I was playing and explained to me how she doesn’t play the piano anymore since Grandpa died because they used to play duets.

When I was done practicing, we all sat down and Grandma accused Lisa of putting highlights in Jack’s hair. Lisa attempted to explain the effects of sun rays on blond hair. Grandma didn’t buy it.

Grandma showed us a scarf she was knitting. She was dissatisfied with it – probably because it was the most abrasive yarn ever. We told her she was not going to like that scarf and she should make dishrags instead. She dismissed the idea and insisted Lisa take the yarn. Lisa refused. I told her I use yarn I don’t like to wrap gifts, so she told me to take it.

Then she told me to stretch my back on her yoga ball.

Now it was time for the educational portion of the visit. Grandma asked Lisa (who wasn’t in the room at the time) if she read the article in Newsweek about women. Lisa yelled “No!” from the kitchen as she tore Jack away from the Mount Olympus water dispenser. Grandma then proceeded to read from the current article. Apparently a gynecologist wrote about how the media is telling women how we should be. We humored Grandma as she read us a passage. Lisa had to leave the room again and so Grandma asked me, “Laura, are you happy with the way you are?” I’m used to these little Oprah-esque sessions with Grandma, so the question didn’t annoy me too much. “What do you mean, with the way I look? The way I act?” I asked as I wound the ugly yarn back into a ball.

“All of it.” She said.

“Well, maybe we should never be fully satisfied with the way we act. We should be seeking to improve ourselves.”

“Do you know what that makes you?” she asked. I waited, knowing she wanted to answer for herself, “A good Mormon.”

Of course there was a hint of sarcasm in her voice, but of course she’s right.

Grandma also showed us a cashmere beret from a shop in York that she bought from a catalog. Grandma loves to buy things via catalog and QVC. Does she keep the things she buys? Rarely. She gives them away because she ends up not liking them. She also gives away the things you give her because she figures they will make a nice and convenient gift for someone else.

We were there for a good 40 minutes when Lisa picked up Jack, a signal that let me know she was ready to go, which meant (to me, at least) it would be a good idea for me to go as well.

Grandma followed us through the kitchen to the back door. There was a bowl of watermelon on the table. She asked if Jack wanted some. Lisa said no (Jack actually licked a piece earlier and put it back).

I don’t remember why, but I think we all sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag” in the kitchen before we left. Oddly enough, Grandma and I sang that when I visited her in the summer. Only we were laying on her bed (you had to be there). That was when she explained the rules of football to me just in case I married someone who liked football.

Lisa and I took notice of the candy bowl on her kitchen table. I wonder where I can get this pill/candy mix:

We gave Grandma a kiss and walked to our car. She yelled, “Come visit me in the summer!” Lisa and I exchanged a confused expression and waved back.

I used to visit Grandma more often when I lived in Sandy because Holladay was on the way home from work. I didn’t really call before hand. I would just happen to be in the area and call from my car to ask if I could come. She rarely answered, so I would leave a voice mail and then she would call me right back.

Sometimes she wouldn’t call back, but I’d stop by anyway. Her car would be in the driveway, her lights would be on, I could hear Seinfeld on the television, but she wouldn’t answer her door. I would call her again from my cell phone and she would answer and I would say I’m outside her door and she should let me in.

So now, whenever I call she asks, “Hello my Laura, are you outside my door?”


Ilene said...

i LOVE Grandma Durham.

You are a good mormon and there is no shame in that. However, I do hope you are happy with who you are here and now. I didn't just learn that from Oprah but from my yoga class too.

Thanks for sharing this. I love Grandma stories.

ThomCarter said...

Sounds like you have a great grandmother

Joel said...

grandma stories are always classic and filled with unexpected comedy gold.

Question is where does ball 'O yarn rank on all time presents that you came home from grandma's with?

laura said...

Let's see, where does ball o'yarn rank...

Since it is functional, it would have to rank higher than a bracelet she gave me once. The almond butter was good, the DanActive was good (that yogurt was for immunity). She gave me my Grandpa's Book of Mormon and some of his piano music which probably ranks the highest. Wasn't crazy about the Newsweek she gave me. If I haven't thrown it away, it's still in my car.

We'll Call her "Lisa" said...

You know what's gross about that picture of the candy bowl? It looks like a clogged artery.

Leslie Durham said...

Oh my word...I love it. I need to visit her more, I'm still not used to those "Oprah-esque" moments and they still annoy me. The last conversation I had with Grandma involved her telling me that she watches The Colbert Report and The Daily Show before she goes to bed. The realization that Grandma and I have the same bedtime ritual sent chills down my spine.

Amy said...

It's Saturday afternoon, and I'm reading my emails 3000 miles away from my family and my Grandma Durham which some of my relatives would consider a blessing. They say "absence makes the heart grow fonder." It is true. My husband's grandmother doesn't even know who Steven Colbert is, she doesn't have the memory to recall Oprah-isms, and she isn't too interested in communicating with her family. That is what dementia and old age will do to someone. Luckily, my Grandma Durham continues to educate herself even if it is by watching John Stewart's version of the news. Even with her many quirks, there are many elements of unconditional love, concern, and selfless giving (even if that giving involves re-gifting) that unfortunately years of Grandma Durham jokes have muddied.

We'll Call her "Lisa" said...

We didn't ask about her hair appointment. I really wanted to know how that went. Dang it. We'll ask when we visit her in the summer....

Anonymous said...

Love Grandma Durham moments! Thanks for giving us such a descriptive account. I felt as if I was right there in the action!