As far as grandmothers go mine was absolutely the best of the whole world. At the very least she was the absolutely best of my world. This was my mom’s mom. My dad’s mom I don’t remember very well. But my grandma was the best. We made cookies and played 7 card rummy. She measured socks for me by taking the closed sock and wrapping it around my closed fist. If it fit my fist it would fit my foot.
And she taught me how to darn socks; at least how to close the holes that I wore through them. I was pretty good at the holes where I could have the sides of the hole meet. But the ones where she placed a shot glass inside the sock and gradually weaved a new section of missing sock over the hole was her specialty and my nemesis.
My grandmother used to go somewhere and buy up bunches of socks wholesale and then resell them in the neighborhood. Later on my mother started a small shoe store. From the ankles down I was covered and it saved a lot of time not having to go shopping. When the shoe store closed and we moved from Brooklyn to Queens, when I was four and a half, we took the remaining inventory with us. I don’t think I ever saw the inside of a shoe store until I was 10.
But after that I was hooked. Not on the shoes but on the foot measure. The one that measured both the length and the width of your foot. I was fascinated with the piece that slid from side to side and had letters on it. On my feet they only used to measure the length. The numbers made sense. I watched the number get bigger year by year just like watching rising height of the pencil mark inside the closet door frame, that we used to mark my changing height. For years my sister was always the winner. Both somehow I caught up and finally took the lead. Looking back now it should have been a really big deal when that happened but it seemed to pass by without a word.
Although I loved the sliding piece of the foot measure going from side to side I never knew what the letters meant. Probably we were shopping for shoes for my mother or sister and I nothing else to play with. I could make a toy or game out of almost anything. I didn’t ask what the letters meant or what this thing did. I used to like to just think about things and figure it out for myself. I guess I was like Moses and the Israelites who walked around the desert for 40 years. They probably could have made the trip in 6 months if they had only asked directions. That is if they knew where they wanted to be going. But at that time they were nomads and they weren’t really planning to go to any particular place anyway.
So let me tell you about the compassion of my grandmother. First of all she put up with my grandfather for 20 years until she threw him out of the apartment they rented. Then she took him in as a boarder and then she threw him out again and he moved across the hall. It was strange I would go to visit my grandmother and then go across the hall to visit my grandfather. By boarder in those days it meant you had a one bedroom apartment and if you had a boarder you gave the boarder the bedroom and you slept in the living room. There was no closet in the living room so you bought a tall cabinet with a rack to hang clothes and a few shelves and you were fine. Its not like you have a huge inventory and need a walk in closet. It took me years to figure out why this bedroom was actually the living room. I thought it was a two bedroom apartment with no living room. Actually I never thought about it, its just was the way it was.
Now I would think about it and drive myself crazy. Boy to be a kid again and just let things be as they are. My grandmother seemed to let things be as they were. At least she did not seem to be bothered by all of the things my mom and dad would get bothered by. Maybe you revert back to letting things be as they are when you are a grandparent or maybe when you get older. That would be nice. So if you start out as a kid with that ease of living what’s the benefit of growing up and losing it? And then you get it back well at least that’s nice.
So why do grandparents get it back? Maybe they have more time to just be. They worked and looked for something else for years and then found that just being was quite good enough and maybe better.
Well at least my grandmother; that’s why she was the best.