She is a whiz on Facebook. Fastest “Like” time I’ve ever seen and her responses are unfailingly supportive. Having celebrated the 2nd anniversary of her 89th birthday this year–she refuses to turn 90–I’d be willing to bet that she is the oldest active member of Facebook. Grandmommy is still as sharp as a tack with a fantastic sense of humor. She is truly delighted with the world around her.
She has the sweetest southern speech impediment. All her words are gently delivered and rounded off on the edges. “Grammar school” becomes “gramma schoo-ool”. It fits her personality. And she has an easy laugh that I have been trying to provoke since I was a little girl. I remember stealing the phone away from my dad around age 5 to tell her and my grandfather a fart joke (I had just learned it and was eager to share its brilliance with an audience that appreciated me). My father must have been so proud that day. But Grandmommy and Papa just laughingly sighed over the long distance, “Ohhh Stephie…”–a response that I have enthusiastically elicited in the many years since.
She’s not easily scandalized. I would say that she is liberal but she probably wouldn’t appreciate the political connotation of that word seeing that she is a Ronald Reagan-fan hailing from the decidedly “red” state of Alabama. What I mean is that you can talk to her about anything and there is no hate in her heart. I’ve always found her to be exceptionally cool in general, but especially for being a woman from her generation and geographic location. But I never gave a lot of thought to how she got so open-minded until we started discussing my writing.
Grandmommy is a strong proponent of my desire to write, my biggest cheerleader. She always offers positive insight. How lucky am I to have someone like that in my corner? I would wish the same support for any person pursuing the sometimes frightening endeavor of sharing your thoughts with the world. I freely admit that her opinion about what I write is slightly biased. I once asked her to proofread something I’d written to see what I could omit and her comments were, “It is really good! You’re so smart!” Great for my ego, not as good for editing. But she also mentioned something about my having written with “double and triple-themes”, a technique I must have luckily stumbled into, as I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant. She knows a lot about writing and double and triple-themes and such because she was a librarian.
It dawned on me that her time as a librarian must have contributed to her being as open-minded as she is. She reads all of the newest releases whether she is personally interested in them or not. She even read Fifty Shades of Grey (Not a fan, poorly written–I agree.) But she read it because she was curious and because she has a leftover sense of duty from her career as a librarian, when it was her responsibility to read all of the hot new releases before purchasing them for the library. So she was exposed to lots of different viewpoints and literature, and while some of it might not have been her cup of tea, at least she took it in.
I asked her if she thought that her career as a librarian had contributed to her being open-minded and she answered without hesitation, “Without a doubt. Practically the first thing we were taught is that our opinion didn’t matter. Under no circumstances were we to decide what other people should be allowed to read. Censorship is wrong…so we took into account what people were asking for and you bought what the most people wanted.” Grandmommy has given me a whole new appreciation for librarians and their roles in preventing censorship and helping to make new ideas available to their communities. Thank you, librarians.
And thank you , Grandmommy, for being a true lady, an absolute ray of sunshine, an interested listener, and a source of unconditional love. I think these qualities of yours must be the key to a long, healthy and happy life.