Summer Waxing Summer Moon
Grandchildren. Those living links to the future who know us and whom we know. In my case Ruth and Gabe. Three years old and one year old. They are on their way here right now, probably someway in the Twin Cities.
Grandma Ellis, Jennie, was a school teacher. I knew her a bit. I liked her. She understood young boys. I have three memories associated with a visit I made to her house in Oklahoma City when I was 9 or 10. In the first I took apart a clock Grandma no longer wanted. She realized I wanted to know how it worked. Later I tried to knock wasps out of the air with a bug bomb. In my mind it was a dogfight, fighter to fighter. If so, I got tagged and plummeted to earth with a huge swollen left hand. The last memory involved a sinkhole that appeared in the alley behind grandma’s house. It was big enough to hold a car.
What this means to me, these memories as central to my experience of my grandmother, involves the humility to realize my grandchildren may not remember me for who I am or what I have done, but for what happened when they visit. Do I accept it and recognize the experience, validate it? My grandma Ellis did.
I’ve written elsewhere about my namesake, grandpa Charlie Keaton. He rode the rail at the Derby every year and loved horses and harness racing, too. Again, I remember him making syrup from water and sugar. He also cooled his coffee in a saucer and drank from the saucer. He wore green underwear with a flap in the back. Those are my memories of grandpa.
Grandma Keaton, Mable, was a different story. Either she suffered from bi-polar disorder like most of her children or she suffered some mental problem associated with child birth. I remember her as a shuffling, almost mute older person. Within in our family lore she famously fed a 13 year old growing boy half a weinie and two tablespoons of baked beans for lunch one summer during an extended visit.
Thus, my grandparent memories are thin soup, memory wise, though as the oldest in our family at least I have some memories where my brother and sister have few if any.