Shortly after Tuesday’s earthquake, once I knew my wife and dog were safe, I figured it would be a good idea to call my family back in New York. Whenever something happens anywhere in the state of California, somebody back home worries about me, especially my grandmother. Grandma has a funny way of handling this worry though; when she worries about me she won’t call me directly to ask how I am. I guess she figures I’m busy dealing with the issue so what she does instead is call relatives, usually starting with my aunt in New Jersey until someone tells her I’m OK. I’m told that she also calls my sister in Florida for California issues, but in the event of a hurricane in Florida she calls a friend of the family in Pennsylvania then me and so on until someone tells her everything is OK. We call it the indirect reassurance method, and while we kid her about it, it obviously works for her. She knew pretty quickly that we were all fine out here in Los Angeles.
Talking about my grandmother remind me of two stories, one from more than 50 years ago and one from last year.
Just after finishing high school my grandmother got a job as a switchboard operator for the phone company. On one rainy day she called a cab to take her to work and behind the wheel of the taxi was a man in his mid 20’s, blonde hair, blue eyes and wearing a white t-shirt. He put out his cigarette and asked where she was going; she gave him the address and sat quietly in the back as he drove, until he asked;
“You work there?”
They drove in silence for a while but as they approached the building she worked in he looked at her in the mirror, smiled and said
“Well since you have a job you should take me out sometime”
“Excuse me” she told him, “but as the man you should be the one taking ME out”
Now stopped in front of the door he turned around to her and said “I’d love to, what time do you get done”
“I’ll be waiting for you right here.”
One More Cup of Coffee
My grandmother married that cab driver, and while he passed away she has lived in their house for over fifty years. Last year, after I got married, I took my wife to my grandmother’s house to but I explained beforehand about the rules of the house. Over the years there have been several rules we’ve had to follow, including:
1- No food in the living room lest we spill on the carpet.
2- The plastic never, ever comes off of the couches.
3- Don’t even think of pouring coffee.
The third one is the big one, over the years we’ve occasionally carried a plate through the living room and while the couches are still covered in plastic I’m guessing that were only a few decades away from that changing but pouring coffee is not going to happen.
The coffee rule started to keep the kids safe, there was a lot of coffee drinking at my grandmother’s house and to keep us from getting scalded the pouring was for adults only. At age ten I figured I’d be able to pour by the time I was 18 and then maybe 21…by twenty five I gave up hope and so to this day I simply hold my cup out and let grandma pour for me. When grandma offered Nina coffee, my wife reached for the coffee pot and I stopped her; my aunt who knows the rules just laughed and explained. Nina let grandma pour.
After a while we started to talk about my grandfather. My grandmother was telling a story about a dream she had after he had passed away and in the dream Jesus came to the house, sat at the table and reassured my grandmother that everything would be okay. I don’t know what you think about Jesus but even if you’re not a religious person it’s a nice story. After my grandmother left the room my wife turned to me and asked:
“Do you think when Jesus was here he was allowed to pour the coffee?”
No way, he was only 33.