I wonder if my grandmothers were ever introspective, especially about aging. Neither Rose nor Fanny seemed to have a desire to analyze much of anything, certainly not herself.
Grandma Fanny spent her life cooking, cleaning and preparing scrumptious and insanely unhealthy meals. She had a lousy marriage, a single daughter who had few friends and lived with her, one severely depressed son and another (my dad) who wasn’t a bundle of happiness, either. Despite these unfortunate circumstances, Fanny always seemed content with her life. She didn’t stop cooking until the day she entered a nursing home with Alzheimer’s at 84. As long as everyone was well fed, she was happy. Maybe that’s what kept her sane.
Grandma Rosie was Fanny’s polar opposite. Cooking wasn’t her strong suit, but she was a pro at socializing, working hard, and minding everyone else’s business. Rose would call me on Saturday nights to see if I had a date when I was in my mid-teens. She’d schlep me all over Hartford, CT., to meet her friends, cousins, sisters-in-law and cousins when I’d visit her. She played Gin Rummy like a card shark, bought and returned clothes with zeal and tried to motivate my grandfather to be more driven. She owned a candy store, worked behind a bakery counter and strived her whole life. She didn’t stop moving and looking beautiful, even when she had a stroke and was in a wheelchair. She died at 95. If she had wisdom to share about the sum total of her life, you wouldn’t know it.