One of the things I’ve most admired about my Grandma Aline is her sense of humor. With never an unkind word said to or about anyone, she is still able to be mischievously funny and witty.
I remember riding with her to a Wednesday church meeting in early fall when I was about 27. She’d had her ears pierced for the first time earlier in the year. So I’d finally gotten my nerve up and had mine pierced, too, at a booth at the Michigan State Fair just a few weeks prior to our get-together.
Now Grandma has a wide variety of simple but beautiful sets of matching jewelry. They were gifts from Grandpa Cleo, who usually picked out a different gemstone each year. Rings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches and earrings. Since Grandma and I have the same ring size it was a frequent joke between us when I’d blatantly “hint” that she lend me her rings.
This time our talk turned to earrings. Would she still be able to wear her many clip-back earrings? Would Grandpa remember to buy her pierced ones now? How many sets of pierced earrings did she think she would need to accumulate before I could start teasing her about “borrowing” them.
After a few minutes of this silly banter, Grandma grew silent. Then keeping her eyes straight on the road before us and in a voice tender with emotion she said quietly, “Kathy, dear, I’d like to give you the pair I have on today.”
Wow! I hardly knew what to say! My grandparents came from hard-working Kentucky stock, who had struggled through many desperate times growing up, as well as after moving to Detroit. They were generous people, but to own a pair of Grandma’s earrings now. Well, that was a gift I hadn’t expected.
I waited a moment for traffic to clear in front of me, then turned to look at Grandma, eager to see what beautiful gems gleamed in her ears and ready to utter my humble “Thank You” and other inadequate words of gratitude.
What I saw made me burst out laughing! There she was, nonchalantly looking out the other window, casually twisting and turning what dangled from her ears — a short twisted span of plain old black quilting thread!
She turned back to face me, mischievous smile wide across her face. “Gotcha!”
Grandma Aline hasn’t lost a bit of her humor and wit. She turned 100 this year, February 2nd, 2009, Groundhog’s Day. At her birthday party held in a small banquet room at a local restaurant that same day, surrounded by friends, family, good food and fond memories, her eyes danced with delight, her smile wide as ever even though she’d taken out her dentures and stuffed them into her purse because they weren’t fitting quite right that night and were annoying her.
After dessert, always a favorite course of hers, I sat with Grandma a while and presented the updated number of living descendants she and Grandpa had begun with their own two sons: one son (my father), 13 grands, 31 great-grands, and 13 great-great grandchildren, including one gg-grandson born earlier that very day. Plus, one more due in July. Grandpa Cleo, another son, my Uncle Marvin, and two of his sons, Gary and Larry, had passed on years before.
Grandma’s reply: “I feel busy just thinking about it!”
But she out did herself later that evening, setting my husband up as her straight man. Sitting quietly together he asked Grandma, normally an early riser, if she thought she’d like to take a break and sleep in the next morning.
“Well, yes, I just might do that,” she replied. “Then again maybe I just won’t wake up at all.”
“But Grandma,” my husband said, “That wouldn’t be good.”
Grandma leaned over, eyes sparkling and the familiar mischievous grin beginning to pull at the corners of her mouth. “No,” she whispered, “that wouldn’t be good. But it would sure freak them out.”
JUST FOR TODAY, let’s find ways to find and enjoy humor within our lives, especially with those we love.
It’s a trait that has served my Grandma Aline Davidson well for over 100 years. I wonder just how many hearts, minds and souls her warm, witty, gracious and mischievous smile has warmed all these years.
UPDATE 1: Grandma celebrated 101 years Feb 2, 2010. Go Grandma! Please consider sharing your own stories of good humor and laughter.
UPDATE 2: September 16, 2010 – Grandma passed away peacefully this evening. She was sitting on the couch in my dad’s living room. Dad explained, “One minute I looked over and she was reading her Bible. A few minutes later I looked back and she was gone.” Her body will rest in eternal peace near Grandpa’s. But her soul and her laughter remain as vibrant as ever.