I don’t get on with my mother, I might have mentioned that before. I really don’t talk to most of my blood family, really. I love my husband, mother in law and kids, and that’s about it.
But I do talk to my grandmother. Actually, as I get older, I realize that there’s more of her in me than I realized as a child. I’m also realizing that’s not a bad thing.
I’ve mentioned before that I come by my geek genes honestly. I started watching X-Files and Star Trek, Next Generation with my grandma as a little girl. I’d do that while playing with these glass beads. She told me that they were for some game that one of my uncles played. I’ve searched but I can’t figure out what game it was. Anyway, that’s not the point.
Grandma also introduced me to computers, and all the wonders they provide. She showed me my first computer game, Commander Keen. (Yes, I am old. Shut up.) She had book shelves full of books, far superior to anything we had at home. She had all of the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of The Rings, The Dragon Riders of Pern. She also had all of the Calvin and Hobbs books, with which I spent many a joyous summer day.
My grandmother was also bitingly critical. She would tell me exactly what she thought of something I’d done with no sugar coating at all. I showed her a story I’d written when I was young, younger than my kids are now. I’d labored over it, writing an outline, making up detailed character backgrounds. I even printed it out, on the old copy paper that ran together and had ridges on the side that had to be pulled off. (Man, I loved that stuff.) And after laboring over this for days, (I was like eight) I gave this manuscript to my grandmother to edit for me.
She went through it with a red pen, and she used it liberally. At the end of it, she wrote, “This is a good outline.” She also took out all of my childish swearing, like ‘Dorks’ and ‘Jeez’.
Looking back, I’m able to appreciate the good lessons in there while disregarding the bad. (I think we’re all aware my vulgarity has evolved.) I appreciate now, far more than I did back then, the honesty in which she dealt with my work. It really set me up for an expectation of honesty in my life. Sadly, it’s not one the world has lived up to, but we can’t all be my grandma.
Finally, my grandmother is anything but a pushover. She is fearless, and insistent upon good behavior. If my grandmother is served the wrong thing in a restaurant, everyone knows. If someone has a problem with her, they know her opinion of them. She’ll say anything to anyone, with not a moment’s hesitation, and she’s encouraged me to do the same. She was the lady none of the young men in church wanted to sit in front of, because she’d be sure to tell their mothers if they were acting up. (I have no idea why none of them wanted to ask me out.) She cared not a thing about what people might think of her. She only thought of doing what was right.
I don’t want you to think she’s a saint. She’s got some serious judgmental problems, and her strictly Mormon lifestyle doesn’t quite mesh with my anti gender rolls, pro gays, pro choice life. But she loves me, even if she’s really quick to tell me what I’m doing wrong with my life.
As far a role models, I guess I could have gotten worse.