By the time you read this it will be Thanksgiving Eve and I will be pretending like I’m so overwhelmed with preparations while my mother “gives me a hand” by doing it all. I am very grateful for my parents (my dad will participate by staying out of the way), and my husband and father-in-law (Kyle decided to deep-fry the turkey, which…has been a whole thing), and my children (who will spend the day fighting, as per Thanksgiving tradition), and all of you. Thank you for being with me these past two years.
Also, thank you for the kind messages related to my grandfather’s passing. My grandpa lived a very long (he would have been 96 in December), happy, love-filled, comfortable life, and died peacefully with all his wits about him – which, as his rabbi said, is something we should all hope to do. Still, losing someone who adores you unconditionally feels pretty lonely, and so I appreciate the attention.
Anyway, I thought I’d share a story about my grandparents because 1) they were awesome, and 2) this particular event coincidentally occurred at Thanksgiving.
Like I said, my Grandpa Mel and Grandma Mar (her name was Marion, but we called her Grandma Mar because grandmother in French is grand-mere, which sort of sounds like Grand Mar; and if my grandmother had to be old enough to be a grandma she would at least be a glamorous French one) were fantastic. They were on a first-name basis with half of the maître d’s in New York and New Jersey. They vacationed with (and had a bonkers story about) Dick Cavett – and since I’m name-dropping, Judy Blume was at my engagement party because she was writer-friends with my grandma. My grandpa performed magic tricks at all of my childhood birthday parties; and for my eighteenth birthday, they took my sister and me to Paris and London. I lived with them for a college summer, during which we’d celebrate the end of each workday with a martini. They were fun, and cool, and had amazing taste, and sought out unique and interesting experiences.
They were also totally normal grandparents, and that’s what I’m going to tell you about today.
It was the year 1999, and I was getting ready to take the Amtrak train from Boston to New Jersey for some quality Thanksgiving/Grandma and Grandpa time. I called my grandparents from our apartment landline (because it was 1999) to let them know I was headed to the station and expected to get on the 2:00 pm (or whatever, it was 22 years ago) train.
“What time will you arrive?” Grandma asked.
“I think around 5,” I told her. “I can call you from a payphone (re: 1999) when I get there to confirm?”
“No need,” Grandma said. “Grandpa’s already at the station.” We both laughed, although I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not because my grandfather was always VERY EARLY to EVERYTHING.
(Here’s a side story to that: The Grand Forks International Airport is actually one of the busiest in the country for take-offs and landings because we have an aviation school in town; however, the city only has 50,000 people so the airport itself is just two gates. Today those two gates are in a fancy airport building; but, in the 1980’s, it was one big room separated by a metal detector with a restaurant tacked onto the end. My grandparents were flying back to New Jersey on the 7:00 am flight, and so my grandfather got to the airport at 3:00 am…and then sat in the car for two hours, because the airport itself didn’t open until 5:00. Finally, a worker arrived; and so my grandparents went in, the worker checked their bags, took them through the metal detector, and then ripped their boarding pass on the other side. When they sat down in the waiting room, my grandma checked her watch: 5:08.)
“I hope you do get in at 5 so we can go to the house before dinner,” Grandma said. “We need you to help us with something very important.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
Earlier that year, my grandparents had bought their first compact disc player; in celebration, my uncle had gifted them several CDs of their favorite jazz musicians.
“The player is broken,” Grandma said. “We need you to fix it.”
“Well, I don’t know much about CD players,” I told her, “But I’ll do what I can.”
“You are a technology wiz,” she said (Note: I was not). “I’ve been telling everyone about that award you won.”
“Which award?” I asked.
“You know, the very prestigious award from BU,” she said.
I thought for a moment. “The Dean’s List? That’s not an award, it’s just a semester grade thing. Lots of people are on it.”
“Maybe,” she said, brushing me off. “But you’re the very best.”
“Obviously,” I said.
I arrived in New Jersey, and, of course, Grandpa was there waiting for me. He gave me a big kiss and a hug and said,
“We are going to the house before dinner because we need you to help us with something very important.”
“Grandma told me,” I said. “I’ll do what I can.”
“You are a champion of academia and science,” he said (Note: Nope). “I have been telling everyone about how you got a job with an international company your first month at school.”
I thought for a moment. “The Gap? I’m not even allowed to use the cash register.”
“You’ll be running the place by the end of the year,” he said, brushing me off. “They are going to make you the CEO.”
“Naturally,” I said.
At the house, they presented me with a little round boombox.
“We put the CD in,” Grandpa said. “And we pressed play, but nothing happens.”
“You have to turn it on first,” I said, flipping the On/Off switch. The CD player fired up, and a trumpet blared.
“Ahhhhh!” Grandma sighed. “You did it! Such a smart girl.”
“Smart and good-looking,” Grandpa said. “She gets both from her grandmother.”
He offered his hand to Grandma, and the two of them danced around the living room for the rest of the song. We left for dinner a few minutes later, where we toasted the coming Thanksgiving, as well as my exceptional genius and beauty.
My parents, while very supportive, are fully aware of my intellectual abilities – and so I don’t think we’ll be celebrating my brilliance this year. I’m sure, however, we’ll raise a glass to my (and my sister’s) children – whom my parents know, without a doubt, to be the brightest stars in the entire universe.
The photo above is of my grandma and grandpa and was taken by my Uncle Dean when they were 45 years old (and he was 19). It was the first photo Dean had taken with an SLR camera – a used Nikkormat for $175. Related/unrelated, my uncle – Dean Landew – is a rock musician with a bunch of songs on the Radio Indie Alliance Top 10. You check out his music here.
This week’s news has makeover artists, football players, and monks. Read on.
Country House and Angel 37 paired up to offer a no-catch free Thanksgiving dinner on Monday. (KX Net)
Patrons of the Heavens Helper’s Soup Café in Bismarck were treated to a limo ride and makeovers, courtesy of Glance Salon. (KFYR TV)
The North Dakota State College of Science football team – including their 49-year-old defensive lineman, Ray Ruschel – are playing for the NJCAA DIII National Championship next week. (Not The Bee)
The entire town of Hankinson is celebrating Cody Mauch as he heads to the NFL. (Fargo Forum)
Elementary, middle, and high school students in Fargo filled the Fargodome with food donations for the Great Plains Food Bank. (Valley News Live)
In “holy crap” news, a Colgate farmhand survived being trapped in a bin for an hour. (Grand Forks Herald)
Did you watch the Artemis One launch last week? If so, you marveled at the efforts of the UND and NDSU students who helped make it happen. (KFYR TV)
El Belfour – a former UND player and one of the five winningest goaltenders in NHL history – suited up for a rec game in Grand Forks last week. (Grand Forks Herald)
Here’s a cool photo of some early ice pillars near Tioga. (Facebook)
The monks of Assumption Abbey in Richardton pulled out the sleds for a little snowy fun. (KFYR TV)
Let’s Be (Official) Pals!
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