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T h e A d v e n t u r e s o f C h i c a g o J o

 

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Wanda Greene

2006-12-08    12:11 a.m.
 
In the last of the years, I started making visits to Maw Maw and Paw Paw on my own---no holiday prompting a casserole with my knock on the door, no celebration to share with my faux-family---just a simple friendly visit with me and a couple of people I loved.

Maw Maw and Paw Paw. Mom and Dad. Wanda and Jim. It’s hard to talk about one without the other. After my whimsical dating history where friends and family ask, “Is he the one?” as I find myself leaving my casserole on the table and calling a friend for reassuring words that I’m indeed not crazy for having no interest in being married at my age, it’s amazing to think that they spent 63 years together.

Having met through a mutual friend, they married on the Friday after she graduated high school, nine months after meeting. (As Maw Maw said, “Don’t be thinking *that*!”). He encouraged her to quit school and assume wifely duties sooner; but in the end, he waited those few short months before exchanging vows with his young bride. And although an education wasn’t necessary of women back in the day and some might even say that the man’s word was what went down in any situation, this was not the case here.

In 63 years of such encountered situations, there was a certain amount of respect and consideration in their relationship. They were individuals who gave their lives to each other but didn’t compromise on what was important to them. They met their situations with humor and clear admiration for each other.

During one of my visits, Maw Maw made a slight jab at Paw Paw. Apparently during the garage sale they held in Florida before moving to Atascocita in the late 80s, Paw Paw accidentally sold her exercise bike. His hearing aids turned on for this conversation (unlike several other times I’d been around him), we all laughed as she exclaimed, “I’d still be riding that bike today had you not gotten rid of it!”

That verbal poke showed how she handled what was given to her, and it’s the tip of a whole host of qualities that she shared with those around her. But when it comes to love, there were few who demonstrated it quite like she did.

She was that cookie-baking grandma who let you actually play in the house, and Paw Paw just went along with whatever made her happy. Many trips to their house started with a bee-line for the cubby beneath the stairs, where I wouldn’t emerge until I had something to scatter through the house in the very same way that every other kid over there was welcome to do.

I’d been to other friends’ grandparents’ houses before, and although they were hospitable about me playing there with their grandkids, it was very clear that I was a guest. This dichotomy was never made when I met Maw Maw and Paw Paw. These grandmotherly duties that weren’t at all mandatory, but her nature was nurturing, and she definitely excelled in this role. My family and I were immediately adopted, embraced, and loved. It takes amazing people to accept unknown others without question, and I grew to appreciate this more and more as I grew older.

Maw Maw had a rough time of it in the recent years between her health and losing Paw Paw, but my visits and letters were always met with optimism and humor. We joked that I’d get her a trampoline to help her get her hip back in place and a pellet gun to ward off boredom at her apartment, and she said that was fine as long as I didn’t pawn off my annoying cat on her.

And although things slipped more and more, progressively reaching a point to where her mobility was restricted, her freedom limited, and her health diminished, her heart remained open to those she had always unconditionally loved and accepted.

Despite bones becoming brittle and a lifestyle that’s more restrictive and less comfortable, when all is said and done, I hope my only complaint is that my husband accidentally sold my exercise bike in a garage sale twenty years earlier.
 



Miss something?

Moving Day - 2008-02-15
Working from Home is Glorious - 2008-02-13
Speaking in Tongues - 2008-02-07
I Have My Reasons - 2008-01-25
Got an Itch, Fix it, Shine it Up, Sing it Out - 2008-01-23

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