We all get our personal traits from the very early adult influences in our lives. I can tell you that I can be overly stoic and that came from my father. I can be a bit impulsive and that was handed down from my mother. If you think about those two particular attributes, you probably can deduce that they don't co-habit in my body very easily. A mental tug-of-war. I'm still living both ends of my parents' divorce.
Living with my grandparents, I got to experience even more influential behavior that wound up embedded in me. Dad and Grandpa were alike so it was a double espresso dose of stoicism.
From Grandma? I got my tendency to be incredibly impatient. If patience is a virtue, impatience is a sin. And I am a sinner.
Not impatient with people. That's not the issue here. No, like my grandmother, I can get very obstinate about having something done when I want it done. If there's a broken handle on a cabinet, I want it fixed immediately. If there is a warning light on my car dashboard, I can barely wait until the next morning to get it serviced by the dealer. Over and over and over. When I get a bee in my bonnet, I don't let it buzz around long.
Just like Grandma.
This, of course, makes me recall many skirmishes in my house. Because when my grandmother wanted something done, Grandpa was usually the one who had to do it.
"Rake the leaves in the yard, Pop."
If it wasn't done within a day, guess who started the job herself.
"I want to go down to the Bronx to pick up some cold cuts."
If they weren't in the car within a day, guess who wasn't talking to Grandpa until they went.
This was the pattern I saw for years.
Later on, Grandma decided to have aluminum siding put onto the house. This would be a summer-long project with scaffolding and workmen all over the place. When you enter into such an undertaking, most folks will take a number of bids from contractors, deliberate on the colors, etc.. Not Grandma. The first bid was accepted. And there was absolutely no discussion on the colors. Green and white. I guess she made the right choice. The same panels exist on the house to this day.
Grandma's impatient streak did upend her once. Actually, she wound up in a whole puddle of trouble.
Grandpa was gone from our world. Mom and Dad were both working nights. The bulk of my day, once I would come home from school, would be spent with Grandma. Eating dinner, doing my homework while she watched Walter Cronkite, and then enjoying our favorite TV shows together.
Except there was one day when I arrived home to find something amiss. Major league. I walked into the house to find Grandma in her living room. With gauze all over her legs which were bleeding.
She shooed me and my questions away for a few minutes, but I persisted on getting answers. Was I going to have call my mother to come home?
Okay, got it. Then please tell me what happened.
As I finally got the story out of her, I was mystified, aghast, and impressed all at the same time.
While taking out the garbage, the back door had slammed shut. And locked. Okay, I said, there's that hidden extra key that we all knew about and had access to. On a hook underneath the curtain rod in the vestibule.
Grandma looked at me. Surprised and ashamed. She had forgotten all about the key. Instead, she had resorted to more drastic measures.
She had taken a rock and busted one of the cellar windows. Somehow, this almost eighty-year-old woman had crawled through the opening and had essentially broken into her own house like a cat burglar. When I went outside to look at where she had wiggled herself back in, I couldn't believe how she had done this. Houdini would have been proud. Of course, the oozing of blood showed me that she had not come through the magic trick unscathed.
I asked Grandma when this had all transpired. My parents usually left around 1PM. It was now 4PM. Had she been outside all this time?
Nope. She got locked out at 3PM.
I was confused. She couldn't have waited a single hour for me to come home from school. After all, I had my own key. I remembered where the hidden key was. And, at the very least, I could have gotten through the cellar window a lot easier. Why, Grandma, didn't you wait?
"My stories were coming on."
She was much less impatient after that.
Dinner last night: Corned beef Reuben panini at the Arclight Cafe.