My grandma is turning 89 tomorrow. (Yes, this is the grandma who has seen American Pie based on my mom’s recommendation. For the record, she did think it was funny).
I’ve been pretty lucky to have had her in my life this long. My kids are pretty lucky to have their “nana” in their lives long enough to build memories that they will remember.
I figured I would share some of my best ones…
1. The ear piercing summer. My older sister and I wanted our ears pierced. I think I was 6 (she would have been 8). We would live with my grandma for the summer at the lake house. My grandma had pierced my moms ears, so she figured she would self pierce ours. She used a pair of hoop earrings that a jeweler would use to pierce ears (the extra pointy kind). My sister and I each got an earring and every night that summer my grandma squeezed that earring just a little further into our ears. Mine never made it the whole way and by the end of the summer my mom took us to the jeweler to get our ears pierced by a professional. My grandma didn’t think it was necessary, but my sore single earlobe felt different.
2. Don’t touch your hair outside of the bathroom. Seriously- don’t do it. Not even to swipe some that fell into your face to move behind the ear. Come on- that should have been pulled back the moment you got up! Such a novice. My grandma had a lot of rules- but the hair rule was a big one. She was also a neat freak- you could literally eat off her floor and feel good about it. So when my sisters and I started to grow out our hair from our childhood bowl cut, she started to get nervous about the hair she would find “everywhere”. That same cabin we would live in for the summer had the hair rule and one summer we must have been testing the waters. She got so upset with us one day that she literally cleaned the cushions from the couch, gathered up the loose hairs she found, put them in a bowl and declared it would be dinner if we didn’t stop touching our hair outside of the bathroom. (No she wasn’t kidding, she didn’t know how to “kid” and I most certainly wasn’t going to be the one to call her bluff on this one!)
3. Curfew. My grandma was definitely known as the strict one in the lake community. So of course my sisters and I were the only ones who had a curfew in the summer. We wouldn’t do much, just walk around the lake community or hang out at the rec hall by the beach playing cards or ping pong, but we had to be home by dark (we didn’t love walking through the woods in the dark with the bear potentially lurking around). However, curfew had to be according to my grandma’s clock on her tv, which was notoriously unreliable and ahead of time. If she said we had to be in by 9, better make it 8:55 to be on the safe side. Countless nights sprinting up the hill from the beach, tripping over tree roots as we scrambled through the woods hoping her clock wasn’t 6 minutes fast that night. I don’t remember a consequence if we were late, but you never wanted to test grandma.
4. Toilet paper. We had one bathroom in the cabin. Just one. It was fine when it was my grandma and my sisters. But when my uncle would visit and my parents would come, it was a lot to share. Grandma would always remind us of the septic system not being tested. In addition to using single ply sandpaper as your toilet paper option, there was literally a note above the toilet paper detailing how you could use exactly four squares per flush with the toilet. Consequence? You get to plunge the toilet when it clogs.
5. Shoes. I’m notorious for wearing flip flops all year long, even when there is snow. I really hate having my feet feel confined to socks or shoes.s Part of me wonders if it’s because I lived so much of my childhood having to wear socks that this is my rebellion. Grandma had a rule (or a few) that there were no bare feet in the house (I don’t know, something about feet sweat stains or just dirty feet). You always needed socks BUT you could NEVER wear shoes in the house (too dirty). However, grandma ALWAYS wore shoes in the house. She literally had a pair of inside shoes and outside shoes. My favorite memory is the day my friend called grandma out for being a hypocrite with the shoes one time. I forget how long it took until she came back in the cabin after that (either grandma made her leave or she left on her own, but man it was fun to watch).
I cannot say those are my top 5, but definitely up there with most memorable. I could probably list more than 89 if I really had the time (which I don’t because it’s Sunday which means it’s time for this procrastinator to get to work). While it was frustrating to live in the cabin all summer, in the loft with no AC and rules on rules on rules, and missing out on any summer events at home, I don’t think I would trade it for the world.
Cheers to you, grandma! Here’s to hopefully getting you back to the lake because no, the cabin renovations did NOT mean the 50 years of memories at the cabin are gone or meaningless, it actually means we reminisce more and have a chance to make some new ones. (Like the time when my daughter decided to talk back to her nana and declare she was just walking quickly and not running in the exact spot of the great sneaker battle 20 years prior- come on- we need more of that!)