Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nana and Pop

The rest of my trip to Florida probably wasn't as interesting as it could have been. I spent most of Sunday with my Nana and Pop. This is a little piece of their story.

My mother's parents have been together forever. They've known each other since they were young teenagers, in high school. They were friends. My Nana liked the quiet boy with the wicked sense of humor and ton of dark hair. Then Pop went off to war, they wrote letters back and forth while he was in England and then in France -- and upon his return, they got married. They had my mom about a year later, when they were pretty much still kids. But by then, Pop's hair was no longer dark.

It was a typical marriage of their time. Pop worked and went to college, Nana took care of the kids and the apartment. And from what I've heard, they were poor when my mom was young, until Pop finished school and got established in his career. But they had a lot of family nearby, and a lot of help whenever they needed it.

Their family grew. First my aunt, and then, when my mom was twelve, my uncle. They moved away from their families in the Bronx to Brooklyn. My mother still hasn't forgiven them for taking her away from her grandparents. And then, when my mom was finishing high school, they decided to move to Massachusetts. My mom stayed behind in New York.

Nana got involved in politics. Her father, who I've mentioned before, used to dismiss her activism, calling her a socialist. And growing up, my mother was always a little resentful of the attention her mother paid to politics. To this day, she refuses to engage when Nana starts one of her debates -- usually at the end of a family dinner -- and often leaves the room. Even when she agrees.

They were young grandparents -- in their mid-40s when my oldest cousin was born. And now they're older grandparents, since my youngest first cousin is only five. I feel sorry for him though, since he lives so far away from them. They always lived right around the corner from me when I was a kid.

At this point, my grandparents have been married for so long that they can't function without each other. Even when they argue -- and that's quite often -- they finish each other's sentences. And Pop worships the ground that Nana walks on. My Dad's mother, who divorced my grandfather when my dad was still pretty young, refers to them disparagingly as "the lovebirds." They still flirt. It seems to bother my mother, but most people think it's cute.

A couple of years ago, Nana had a pretty serious brush with cancer, but right now, she's doing really well. It's as close to a medical miracle as anything these days. Most importantly, she was determined to get through it. Pop, on the other hand, spent most of this winter in and out of the hospital. Lymphoma. And then he fell and broke his jaw. He's doing well, all things considered, but it's been really hard. He's still got a long way to go.

My mom and I are convinced that Nana got better so that she could take care of him. But we're also pretty certain that Pop is going to get better -- because Nana decided that it will be that way, and he always does what she says. That's how it's been for over sixty years; why change now?

So, on Sunday, I went to their house. And we sat around and talked. Nana talked about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the fate of the Democratic party. She told me how they were going to watch An Inconvenient Truth later that evening. Pop sat in his chair and talked a bit about baseball and my work.

And me? I was just happy to be there. Not all 31-year-olds are this lucky.


e.b. said...

That is a really lovely story and you are so right about having them there and being able to engage in a conversation with them. It is so invaluable. My remaining grandparents are not of the mind to communicate their stories or history.

DSL said...

See? Beneath all of the cynicism, Dara is really sentimental.

dara said...

e.b.: I'm lucky I was born while they were young. My children won't be so lucky.

DSL: Crispy on the outside, gooey marshmallow center.

DSL said...

You should put that on a sign, or a t-shirt. :-)

dara said...

Maybe. Still, it's not something I publicize that often. It's a sign of weakness that can be exploited. The Daily Puppy totally takes advantage of it -- damn those cute puppies!