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May 27, 2008

“Did you go down 6th Street at all? I suppose it’s not like it used to be. I used to be able to buy 6″ shrimp at every corner and there were always live bands out playing. I remember once I was marching down Congress Street–you know, the one that runs up to the Capital. Well, our band had made ones at UIL for four years in a row so we got to march with the Texas Band. I was a twirler and my tights came down during that performance. The zipper broke and they fell right down. I was at the age where you can get so embarrassed you could die. I pulled them up and quickly caught up with the band. There was another time that my friend and I were down 6th Street and she got her finger stuck in a beer bottle. We went all around asking people’s advise. Everyone told us something different, but mostly they just told us to break the bottle. It was back when everyone was really friendly and it wasn’t just a party street. I suppose it’s different now.”

I listened with a smile as my Granny told me of her experiences in Austin…down the same streets I visited this weekend. Sometimes I wish I would have grown up in an earlier generation. Alas, there would just be something else that I didn’t like. Sure, the gas was a lot cheaper and men would pump it for you. Sure, there was more living space and everything seemed much more innocent and fun back then. But, the grass is always greener on the other side. I love hearing her stories, anyhow.

She’s always full of stories…even right when I pick up the phone, she answers, “You’re just in time for the party!” I am? Well, great! What party? Oh, Mary got in the pool for the first time this year…the weather was warm enough! I’m so glad I called for the occasion! I hope that when I am her age, I will be filled with stories and that I’ll be filled with wisdom to pass on to others. She always has a way of teaching– in almost any situation. Whether she’s giving me rules for tubing: now, if you fall out of your tube on a rapid make sure you go down the river with your feet in front of you. Make sure to lift your butt on the rapids. Watch out for rocks or you’ll get rock dents. Or rules for the beach: Always drag your feet in the ocean so that you don’t step onto something sharp. Don’t have your mouth open when you are looking up and feeding seagulls.

She continued to tell me of her planting…in fact she has one crop. Her tomato plant delivered a tomato the size of a marble (in her words). She was so proud! I love that with Granny, everything becomes a game or some unique way of learning–and most certainly, a story to tell! My favorite use of resources was when my sister and I were small enough that we still took baths, but we had no bath toys at Granny’s. No problem for Granny. We just walked to the backyard and picked us some genuine “okra boats”….that’s right. Okra. Believe it or not, they turned out to be the best bath toys ever! And probably the only bath toys I really remember!

I promise, she can advise you in some way on just about every subject. And if she can’t, then she’ll make it up and pretend that she knows. But of course, she’s a retired teacher and counselor…it’s in her nature to advise.

Well, now she’s come up with a new name. After years of being Granny…or “Gaaaarrraaannnyyy” as Marilyn and I call her, she will now be Gran-Granny since my sister is pregnant! She will be the best Gran-Granny ever! I only wish they could see her tubing like I got to! Perhaps we’ll still sing “Kumbaya” or “King of the Road” around the camp fire!

I wish that Grandparents could always stay young! Really, they’re the coolest of us all! If only our culture paid more attention to them. They have so much to offer! I am thankful that I’ve had great grandparents. One day we’ll all be old–so we better learn to appreciate age and to pass that value on to our children. Otherwise, we may not have Granny’s to teach us how to hunt for coral on the beach, or how to read Shell Silverstein poetry with enthusiasm or how to make every moment special– or to teach us how to deal with death and life’s greatest pains. Praise God for Grandparents.

I’ll leave you with a saying that she learned from her Great-Great Grandmother and has now passed on to me: “Well, God is on the water the same as on the land.”

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