Sunday, June 14, 2009

Visiting Great Grandma Walker

So the last nine days have been completely scheduled to the rim with activities! Of course, I was on vacation. Our family went on a trip to Oregon, which concluded in a visit to San Francisco, and the long, rainy drive home.

The first part of the trip was dedicated to Grandma Walker... She is quite the character! She's like the energizer bunny, trapped in a ninety year old person's body!
Strangely I've come to find that the two of us have a lot in common. We both love life and are excited about pretty much anything good. We're both really short, (I'm shorter,) and we both really love animals.
Despite our similiarities, there is a minor difference between me and Grandma. For the most part, I prefer speaking my mind, but I try to filter what goes in and out of my mouth at all times; Grandma doesn't. She has no problem cursing, and has loads of famous quotes. The way she talks is a little bit childlike, she is blunt, and doesn't care if she insults other people with her honesty. The good thing to this is that you always know what's on her mind, and what she thinks of you.

When we walked into her old, whitewashed house in her old folks area in Oregon, the memory of our last visit was fresh on our minds. We stood nervously before her big black door as my dad knocked. A strange anticipation hung in the air, along with a foreboding sense of dread. For some reason, it took a really long time for her to reach the door of her small rambler. We found out after the door was swung slowly open that Grandma Walker had finally acquired a walker for herself, her ankle had never properly healed after she'd broken it last year... Her ankle was totally deformed, and I clenched my fists in anger as she told us how the doctor's had treated her. Technically they hadn't treated her at all, acting like she was too old to be helped and not doing anything.

She kept talking to us for a few minutes, her voice was a bit rattly, and she laughed often in her low alto voice. My dad acted clownish, just to see her reactions.
After talking so seriously, it wasn't long before we couldn't surpress laughs. Grandma finally took the time to observe the family that she hadn't seen in a few years, and she commented on her grandson's appearance.
Without sympathy, she looked my dad up and down. After her eyes were done scrutinizing my dad, she loudly exclaimed, "Why Grant, you've gotten so fat! You're just so fat, you must really like to eat!!" I felt a twinge of pity for my dad, but I just couldn't help but laugh at her unchanted, unrelenting bluntness. I was relieved that she didn't think I was fat.

     Our Grandma Walker has was born in 1919, so she's lived through a lot. She's lived through the Great Depression and both world wars. Because of her age, she has lots of traditions and formalities that haven't really changed much since her younger ages.

     The worst part of going to Grandma's is her hospitality. When she was our age, it was always necessary to offer to feed your guests. Grandma took it upon herself to make sure that we, "her guests," were well fed. This eventually led to her trying to force us into eating her old food,"Just shut up and eat some potato salad!!"

     I really love my Grandma, but there is one thing that our family can't deny. Her food would easily qualify for Fear Factor. After trying to stall the inevitable, we finally knew that there was no way to avoid eating what she offered. That night's course was potato salad.

     She'd been eager to have us eat the potato salad she made from the day she made it about a week before...

     My grandma sat in her rocker in the next room, watching us in the kitchen to make sure that we were well fed. Fortunately, her sight isn't all that great, she didn't see our noses crinkling in blatant dismay.
As if on cue, everyone looked to me, desperation emanating from their eyes. My mom silently questioned, "How much do you love your grandma?" I gulped and shook my head. I felt like I was volunteering for the guillotine. With a little hesitation, I muttered,
"Alright, I'll eat some in front of her, that way she gets the impression that we've eaten." As if reading my mind, mom whispered in relief,
"Are you sure? Okay, we'll stay over here, just come dump the rest in the garbage after you're done." I trudged into the front room with a paper plate, armed with only a fork against the potato salad.
Grandma looked at me expectantly, I dipped the fork into an odd colored potato and shoved it into my mouth before I could cower out. My heaved in protest to the disgusting salad, the second that I put the food in my mouth, I involuntarily gagged, chewing just enough to swallow it down, and then quickly forced three more bites before my stomach settled again.

    After I was sure that my grandma had seen me eat her salad, I slinked back into the antique filled kitchen and found the garbage can. That wasn't the worst food I had at Grandma's last week, but that really was taking one for the team.

     My whole family stayed in a fairly nice hotel while we visited Grandma Walker, her house was much too small for everyone. Even though we had a hotel room, my dad insisted that I spend the next three nights alone with Grandma to prove how much I love him... I really must love my dad, because there are things much worse than potato salad lurking in Grandma's fridge.

     As much as I tried to sleep in that morning to avoid breakfast, I just couldn't. Grandma's house was really cold, and it didn't help that I'm an early bird. At six thirty, I walked into the kitchen, only to find Grandma waiting for me. The very first thing out of her smiling mouth was,
"Let's get you some breakfast!!" I groaned inside, wondering if I could possibly come out of this trip alive.

     For breakfast, I had shredded wheat, with sour milk poured on it. That was pretty gross, but not the worst part. After only being able to eat half of it, Grandma insistently tried to make me eat everything else in her fridge. She handed me a black banana. I peeled the skin off, to reveal that the banana itself was covered in brown spots. Grandma handed me a butter knife, so that I could cut off the larger spots.
When I was done cutting, there wasn't really much banana left. She looked at me encouragingly as I bit into the hard banana. Even though that also was too gross to finish, I couldn't force myself to eat anymore after the tropical canned fruit. That fruit must've been opened and left in the fridge for a decade, it tasted like tuna...

Aside from the Fear Factor food, it was fun to visit my grandma again. We spent the whole first day in Oregon by doing things that she couldn't normally do for herself.
She scowled at my dad when he told her that we were going to go pick the weeds outside her house. She loves her potted garden, and didn't want us to think that she'd somehow not taken care of it,
"I don't think you'll find any weeds out there!! I don't think you can tell the difference between the plants and the weeds!" She was scared that we'd ruin her beautiful English Roses, and turned out to be really surprised that we actually managed to find so many weeds.
The last day in Oregon was sad, but it was the best day at Grandma's. We went on an eight mile hike called "Canyon Trail," which had ten gorgeous waterfalls.

     When we came back to Grandma's house after the hike, we got to hear lots of her stories and lectures. My favorite part of the whole conversation was a reference to her little old cat "Kissy Kissy." My grandma looked intensely at my dad as she asked,
"Now Grant, do you believe in aliens?" To which he instantly replied,
"No Grandma, there's no such thing. Don't worry about them." To which my grandma passionately exclaimed,
"Then what happened to my cat?!?"
I know that it's sad and crazy, but my Grandma believes that she has proof that her cat was abducted by aliens. The worst part about her cat stories is that Kissy Kissy was actually her neighbor's cat. (For some reason my grandma thought that their cat was hers.) One day, after grandma let him outside, Kissy Kissy "ran away," and she never saw her beloved cat again...
We're pretty sure that the neighbors just reclaimed their cat.