Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Taking an idea from Amie, who got it from Laura, this one is about my grandmother.
Unlike Laura, I knew my grandmother very well when she was still alive. She and my grandfather took my mother, sister, and I in after my father left. My mom had to work when we were young (still does, actually), so my grandparents helped raise D and I. My grandma was the one who picked us up from school and embarassed us by doing it in her hair rollers. She was the one who made us dinner before dance class and broke up our arguments.

She died two weeks before Christmas when I was 15. It's a sad story, and one that I won't get into here. But the point is, I knew my grandma. Very well. But she didn't live to see me graduate from high school, much less law school. Theoretically, I have no idea how she would have felt about my becoming a lawyer.

Laura and Amie, according to their blog posts, had very conservative German Lutheran Grandmothers. And, here's where we differ. My Grandma was neither German nor Lutheran. Grandma wasn't born in Italy, but she was younger than most of her sibling (she was one of ten). Also, inexplicably, their family was Protestant---which denomination, I'm not sure, but she never went to church anyway, so I don't think it matters. She did convert to Catholocism after my Grandfather passed away, just in case, though Lord knows she found the entire religion bewildering. Whenever she came to mass with us (my Grandpa's family was the more typical Catholic Italian variety). She was bemused by the constant standing and kneeling, "What is this? An aerobics class?" she'd grumble. She soberly informed me that all priests are alcoholics (all that communion wine) and, thank to her vivid mental picutres about what I could catch from sharing the wine cup, I haven not taken communion wine, ever. Ever. In over 15 years. No wine. Me. Passing up free booze. That's power.

She was a powerful woman. Not in the conventional sense that you'd think of. She wasn't leading the charge into the workforce, busting the glass ceiling with a red powersuit and a briefcase. But she was ahead of her time. She was a stay-at-home mom who cooked and cleaned and raised the kids, but for anyone who met her and my mild-mannered grandpa, there was no doubt who really called the shots. She was a fiesty, outspoken little fireball who encouraged our independence, ruled her roost, and yelled at telemarketers, annoying neighbors, and any kids who messed with her grandkids.

Meeting her would probably explain a lot about me. We have similar sense of humor, thought it must be admitted she probably didn't joke about sex as much or say "fuck" quite as much as I do. And, her political views were not fiercely conservative (a note about my family: political views take sides rather than generations; my father's family= conservative, mother's family=liberal. I bet you can all guess what side I take after) . She always (probably facetiously) said that she voted for whoever was best looking. For eight years, that meant Bill Clinton.

She was not afraid or disapproving of strong women and she never expected us to shrink into the woodwork. In a lot of ways, I wasn't a typical little girl. A lot of little girls want to be nurses, teachers, or ballerinas. I wanted to be a lawyer. Early on, I was more comfortable with adults than I was with most kids my own age. As anyone who knew me can attest, I was a strange kid. She got me, her special little snowflake, and was unfailingly supportive. Though we never expressly discussed whether she was proud of my chosen career path, I knew she was always proud of my academic aptitude and ambition. Every time I (or any of the other kids) had some little success at school, she'd talk about it to anyone who would sit still long enough to listen--usually family members having coffee and cake on Sunday mornings.

The idea thatI was going into a "man's field" didn't seem to have occurred to her; or, if it did, it certainly didn't faze her. She was so proud of her granddaughter who was smarter than a lot of the boys she competed against. She loved her family, but I get the impression that if she'd been born 40 or 50 years later, things may have been different. I can only imagine her raising hell in a "man's world."

Grandma died before I got my driver's license. She did not see me graduate from high school. She didn't see me graduate from college. She didn't get to see me graduate from law school. But I don't have to wonder. She would be proud of me. So proud of her special, weird, little snowflake. She would be full-to-bursting with pride, smug-as-hell, driving her brother and sister nuts over coffee proud.