Thanks to the weird hyperlinks that my brain follows from one reference to another to another to the next, this afternoon I flashed upon a memory of my grandparents.
I hadn’t thought about this in ages; I can’t tell you since when. It’s certainly the earliest memory I have of my grandparents, and one of my earliest memories at all, period, full stop. And I only recall little chunks.
I was a little bitty wog. Four? Maybe five? Red hair, painted with freckles, small for my age. My grandparents (mom’s parents) were a southern couple, both raised on farms; he’d done his time in the Army in WWII and they started the family as soon as he was back home. I was their first grandchild.
My grandparents had taken me on a car trip to meet some older relative, I think perhaps my grandmother’s grandmother. She lived in this very small Southern town, the very model of Mayberry, with massive graceful shade trees dominating the neighborhood. I recall going out to a diner to eat with the family, and accidentally walking into the restaurant bathroom where my great-great grandmother was *ahem* using the facilities. My grandfather pulled me out toot de suite.
I also recall coming to my grandfather all worried one afternoon, because I had been eating watermelon and had swallowed a seed. With all due seriousness, he told me that I might very well grow a watermelon in my stomach, and that he’d had a friend who swallowed an apple seed and the next day the fellow had a tree limb growing out of his ear!
I slept on the couch in the parlour of whoever’s house. I remember waking up abruptly at dark o’thirty in the morning, trying to make my way to the bathroom in the pitch dark, bumping into strange furniture, getting scared and crying. I woke someone up, who led me back to the couch and urged me to go back to sleep before I woke the whole household.
I remember my grandmother taking me out for a walk early one morning, probably trying to get me to burn off some kidlet energy. We walked to a elementary school, brick, two story, where I played on the swings and see-saw in the playground.
Even with fuzzy, vague memories, I have a very positive impression from the memory. My grandparents were loving, sweet, and playful, with me and each other.
The thing that really struck me about the memory as I thought about it today, was seeing it as an adult, not as a kid. While I thought of them as adults beyond mere measures of age, as I think about it now, they were probably about the age I am now. They started a family young, and mom was their first kid. Mom had me (stupid) young, so my grandparents were probably in their mid-to-late forties in this memory. I can so identify with my grandfather’s awkward embarrassment at pulling his grandson out of the bathroom while trying not to look at his wife’s granny on the can. I can picture him teasing the little kid about ingested seeds. I can hear my grandmother’s patient exasperation as she tried to will me back to sleep. I would love to have a better memory/view of what they were like at that age, as real people, not as my mythologized elders.