Tuesday, March 28

An Ode to my Great Grandma

This is an ode to my great grandma, a woman who was truly a great grandma in every sense of the word. Not many people have their great granparents - until Thursday, I had three (which only strengthens my belief that I will never die). She was an incredible lady. Perhaps the hardest part of seeing her get old was watching the fire go out of her eyes. The hands that used to hold me, my mother, and my grandfather when we were children were little more than paper wrapped around bones by the end of her life. Instead of me toddling around in diapers under her watchful eye, I had to be the one to watch her toddling around...in diapers. I went to her memorial service last night and, although it was a very sad situation, was very comforted by the demeanor, the calm, and the overall Irishness of my family (read, alcohol was involved). After the service, I went back to the hotel lobby where a number of my relatives were staying and got to hear some great stories about her. They helped me realize why exactly I am the way I am, so I'd like to share a few with you. I'll start with the more serious and work my way to the funniest.
-My grandmother began by describing how in every cultural myth, there's a trickster who shakes things up. The Native Americans had their coyote, the Greeks had Hermes, the Yorubans had their Eshu, etc. In most cultures, there is a god or spirit who dwells at the crossroads and gets people out of their comfort zones. That was my great grandma. It shocked me to hear her described like this, because that's how I've always viewed myself - sort of a social pariah who pokes at people's weak spots just because I can. It's nice to know that I'm not just being a jackass - I'm following a family tradition.
-During the memorial service, there was a photo album passed around. In it was a picture of my great grandmother sitting at the end of a dock, looking very happy and peaceful. My grandmother's explanation: "Yeah, that was your great grandmother's first experience with pot". She was 58 at the time the picture was taken.
-My great grandmother was once hospitalized with a blood alcohol content of .9. I initially refused to believe this, but everyone with whom I was drinking swears it was true. However, I still remain skeptical...mostly because if I took that anecdote as fact, I would see it as a personal challenge. Something to shoot for, eh kids?
- My great grandmother had no sense of direction. This was brought to light when she drove across the suspension bridge from Davenport, Iowa, to Illinois. Upon returning home (sloshed) at three in the morning, she decided to take the same route back...as in, she got in the wrong lane and drove into oncoming traffic. A cop pulled her over and helped get into the right lane, because apparently my grandmother could talk her way out of anything.
- She even talked her way out of a ticket when she drove into the back of a Moline police cruiser.
-My great great grandfather, whom I didn't really know aout, was born in Kentucky. His father got off the boat from Ireland. James Cornelius Brady, my ancestor, was an Irishman who worked on the railroad (big surprise). From him, my family got a strong work ethic that apparently lasts until 5 PM, when it turns into a strong drinking ethic. My great great aunt told me a couple stories about him over a glass or two of wine.
- Jim Brady was at the tavern one night when his wife called to tell him there was a problem with the stove. Apparently, she kept screaming that the house was on fire. His response? "Grab a couple of pairs of pants and meet me at the tavern. Let the fucker burn." My great great aunt was the one who had to go get him from the tavern and take him home to his infuriated wife.
- At Jim Brady's wake (in 1944), his friends sat up all night with the body, in the traditional Irish fashion. As the night wore on, the men became more and more sloshed. My great grandmother ended up furiously brewing coffee at two in the morning in order to sober the men up. According to my great great aunt, they were so drunk that they were sitting Jim Brady's body up in the casket in order to pour alcohol down his throat. They were all weeping and talking about having "one last drink with their friend". My second cousin's response was as follows: "Those are great friends. Drink together to the death!" to which we all toasted and told more stories.
My great grandmother was a wonderful lady. My world is at a great loss for having lost her, and I miss her terribly. She lived her life as a true Irish person ought to - hardcore right up to the end. She's one of my personal examples. She has been there throughout my entire life, and although I regret the fact that she never made it to my wedding or college graduation, I feel proud to come from such a fantastic lineage.
Here's to you, Grandma Nonie. May the road rise up to meet you, wherever you are, may the wind be at your back, and I bet you were in heaven a good long while before the devil knew you were dead.
I have a picture of a tombstone on my wall (not that I'm a creepo or anything) which has the following etching on it. I quoted it in my senior speech during choir tour (a completely different set of stories once I get around to them), and I believe that it applies here:
"The souls of all the saints, those we have known and loved, ebb and flow in heavenly chords to a song of peace that only those who escape this world can know."

Give 'em hell, grandma. This drink's for you.
Click this shit!

2 Bullshit Responses:

Anonymous DLo left the following bullshit...

Hiiii austin. I like your blog. Good luck at life, and stop sucking Maddox's cock.

12:52 AM  
Anonymous elyse left the following bullshit...

wow... im.. impressed. lol... not only is this a freaking awesome post... but you sure had one hell've a wake. My regrets about your GrandmaNonie... but i'm sure she's proud, as any irishwoman would be, that you all celebrated it in such a fashion (aka: getting sloshed on beamish, and guinness... and whatever else there may be)

the JamesCBrady story.
... im still laughing..

from one irishman.. (err.. in my case.. woman..) to another.. TIOC faidh ar la...

oh.. and ps... its not weird to have a gravephoto on your wall... i have an entire painted mural.. complete with photographs to boot.

... and..
thats totally not weird
no. of course not.
<_<... >_>..

7:36 PM  

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