Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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On Grandmothers

On the theory that all work is the avoidance of harder work (Poet James Richardson), I come back to Blogging.
I should be cleaning, Christmas shopping, and performing myraid other functions in and around my home. The leaves beckon still from my frosted-over yard, shelves in the bathroom in the original packaging long to be put up.

But for once, I'm stilled, thrown back by the death of a good friend's grandmother, a woman I had met only once, at "Ditzy's" wedding. "Ditzy" (she wouldn't object to the pseudonym) writes a painful but pure account of hearing of her grandmother's death. It is a poignant sudden fiction.

My Friend points out how stressful it can be to talk to elderly family members focused on their last "project." I also avoid (my maternal) Granny Ivy, and for much the same reasons. She always comes around to her death, although she is much happier in her new Independence Village apartment than in her small room at a rural home, she still gets depressed about her health and the sorrowful possibility of losing her mind as well. She dreads this the most, as she sees it happening all around her. In fact, though she could cook in her room, the burners are disconnected and covered by a nice cabinet. One too many grease fires.

But I'm thankful Granny is still bright, interested in the world. She watches CNN all day, and is more informed than I am.

What must depress her is the loss of her vitality. And she's a fabulous woman -- self-educated, she married Hamilton Ivy at 18 during the Depression. She got a GED in her thirties, then took some Psychology courses. Completely self-made, Mildred Jennings left the security of family in the backwaters of Mississippi to overcome the extreme poverty and pain of rural life. She earned a living variously keeping a day care in her home, farming, working at a lunchroom counter in a bomb factory during WWII, finally landing a job at a women's prison in the tiny town of Huntsville Texas. It's still a tiny town, best known for Sam Houston State University, and for Goree Unit, the TDC location that administered the first death by leathal injection (in 1982, just after my Grandmother left and it became a men's prison).

At that time a women's prison, Granny, mother of two girls, rose to become Captain Ivy, head of the prison's night shift. At a training session on new weaponry, she once shot off a bazooka that made the 5' blue eyed grandmother of five keel over backward. She was 64.

Granny has several trophy's displayed on her Independence Village room walls, engraved with "Never missed a Day" and spans of years above her name. One year. Two. Five. Ten. She worked there twenty years.

She half-raised me, moving in with us after her retirement and husband's death. My friend's blog made me think that the eldery live a rich, full life, and have stories to tell that are worth listening to.

So the To Do list will wait. I'm off to call Granny.

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