Thursday, May 05, 2005

my gramma's a betty

Originally uploaded by margrocks.

my grandmother betty's birthday is today. born in 1919, today marks her...uh...math is not my strong suit...i made a C in sophomore birthday? is that right? oh sheesh...

2005-1919 = take one from the 2, 15 minus 9 equals

yes. whew. almost broke a sweat there.

she's an amazing woman, betty. she's lived a life that to her is ordinary, but to me, worthy of an epic movie. not some cheesy, sentimental drivel destined for lifetime network, but i'm talking academy award sweeps, i'm talking meryl streep, i'm talking tears and laughter and pain all mixed and mooshed up into one big cinematic catharsis that rips your heart out a few times, throws it back in, shakes you up like a maraca, and then ends, not quite happily ever after, but complete, contented, and full. think steel magnolias...but with less big hair and no southern accents.

gramma is a beautiful woman, and always has been, yet when i look at pictures of her as a young woman, i almost think that she's more beautiful now. she's developed that bien de sans peau thing the french women like to brag about which roughly translates as "comfort in one's own skin." (i wonder if it has anything to do w/ just growing older...your skin starts to sag so there's just more room to get comfortable, like your favorite pair of baggy jeans!)

gramma doesn't put on airs, she prefers apple pie to tarte tatin. her core is the common sense of the midwest but her carriage and style are of a blueblood. she knows what colors look good on her - beige and black and sometimes blue. her simple philosophy for accessorizing is legendary, even among my worldly nyc friends:

"when you're getting ready to go out, put on all of your accessories, but just before you leave, take one off. that is just what you should wear."

she gets her hair done once a week. her nails are always neatly painted, and she never uses them to open Chinese take-out containers or pick spinach out of her teeth (like me). she flosses like a fiend, and spends a half-hour every evening at her vanity, removing her "face" and slathering on creams and potions that smell like 1940s glamour. she is 100% lady.

there's a reason her body and mind have lasted so long and so beautifully.

she takes really good care of it.


now, she's got her issues too. it's both heartening and heartbreaking to me that she still worries about a few extra pounds. it's great that she still cares about herself, but if i can't not worry about my weight when i'm 86 when can't i?!?! i think a lot of our family's preoccupation with appearance stems from hers, and she doesn't "get" my eating/body issues. when she made a comment about my weight a few years back, and i got a little defensive (okay, i shrieked), she was shocked.

"i thought you were over all of that eating disorder stuff."

ha. i wish.

it's not the flu, gramma.

Originally uploaded by margrocks.

that's the thing with gramma betty. she's practical. she's grounded. when i was 16, i asked her how she met and fell in love with both of my grandfathers. i expected fireworks, dancing cheek to cheek under the starlight in a gown by Adrian - a scene right out of a doris day movie. shoulda known better. not from betty.

"ya know, margaux. both of my husbands just kind of grew on me."

what? like mold, gramma?

nah. she loved them. it's just that her life circumstances were such that there wasn't much time for starshine, drama and obsessions. life just was what it was, and it had to get done. the laundry. the dinner. those last few pounds to lose. the accounting for the car dealership that she ran single-handedly after my grandfather died leaving her with 4 small children. she didn't have time for bedtime stories or after-school cookie baking. she had a family to feed. love, to her, was in the doing. the clean socks. the warm bed.


i suppose there's something to say for pulling-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps and just going to it. maybe that's what we have to do when it comes to fully accepting and loving our bodies the way that they are. just stop thinking about it. just go to it.

so, the self-love is in the doing, but ya gotta do it to get there. it's not easy, but just think, one day you might just wake up and realize:

holy shit, it's grown on ya.

happy birthday, grandma.

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