Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cactus-Wrapped Suger Cube

My 94-year old grandmother died last week. I haven't mentioned it until now for a few reasons: 1) I haven't had this many family deaths in years - and I don't know how else to say it, but it's completely overwhelming. 2) For all the creativity, talent, and generosity my grandmother fostered, she wasn't the nicest person...

A little background: My grandmother was second generation "off the boat." Her parents came to America from Poland - very likely around the turn of the century or shortly thereafter. My great-grandfather (who I've never met) was a cruel man. My grandmother was made to quit school at a young age and go to work. She wasn't allowed to keep any of her earnings. As she tells it, when coming home from work, she deposited all her wages directly into his waiting hand. My grandfather (I never had the chance to meet him either... He had a heart attack in his late forties.) dated my grandmother for several years. One day, he told her it was time... So they eloped to New York City.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds nervously called my great-grandfather. As the story goes, they held the telephone at arms' length and endured the wrath of one who just lost his weekly income. My grandmother, meanwhile, enjoyed living and working in her new situation (my grandfather was a very kind man - just what the doctor ordered... And I find this interesting... Statistically speaking, women tend to marry men like their fathers. I was always very proud of her discernment and courage at a time when cruelty had the potential to extend through generations).

For work, my grandmother wired telephones. My grandfather was a glass blower (he made parts for the hydrogen bomb - and thermos cores...) Eventually, they purchased a farm and settled with their four sons (my grandmother, for yeras, complaned that they couldn't manage to have a girl... Again, statistics show that after a mother gives birth to two children of the same gender, the chance of having a child of the opposite gender drops dramatically).

My grandmother was also incredibly creative. She was a master with needlework. She made toys, lace, and clothing for us as long as I can remember. ( I believe she may have been colorblind - because as the years passed, her afghans became crazier and crazier, color-wise. My mother has one that features pastel yellow and green bordered with fluorescent lime... Thankfully, the one she made me is maroon and cream... and I love it.) I believe she was upset that I could never pick up crocheting... Thankfully, my oldest sister did - and she loves it.

Anyway - I've been having a hard time processing all this loss. (My 5-year old nephew died in December... so we lost our oldest and youngest members in three months...) I was having lunch with my pastor last week. He shed some interesting light.

"I hate to say it, Grub (his last name is Groblewski - and everyone as long as I've known him - calls him Grubby), and I feel badly about it - but my grandmother wasn't always the nicest person. She was generous and creative... but not nice. My sister calls her a sugar cube wrapped in a cactus."

"You say she was polish?"


"Were they from Northern Poland or the south?"

"I don't know."

Now, obviously, "Groblewski" is a Poish name, so he would know something on the topic. He explained that the Prussians came from northern Poland. Their disposition was known to be somewhat cold - and very different from the Slavs of southern Poland.

"So what you're saying is I'm doomed?"

He just laughed. Maybe I'm doomed. I know one thing - I'm not a sugar cube wrapped in a cactus. I'm more likely a cactus wrapped in a sugar cube - or at least that's how I've felt lately...



  • At 4:34 AM, Blogger Sarabeth said…

    My condolences.

    I understand how you feel. I have two grandmothers still living, and neither of them are sweetness and light.

  • At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm sorry about your grandma but also about the rough year. Hope things will get better. Is she the grandma we met?

  • At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oops sorry that was from me, Jane D.

  • At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Katie said…

    Kelly, So sorry to hear about your grandma.

  • At 9:44 AM, Blogger Tiecen said…

    Sorry to hear about your grandmother. My condolences to you and your family. My own grandmother is an excentric southern belle who also likes to crochet horrible afghans. she has alzheimers now and she still makes them. The one she gave me when I was married (I'm now divorced) turned out nice though. Cream and maroon...

  • At 8:03 PM, Blogger sass said…

    sorry to hear about your grandma...

    if it makes you feel any better, my boyfriend's grandmother used to hit her husband with a stick. that is, until he died.

    and one of my best friends refers to her grandmother as "meangrandma" because she doesn't like that her granddaughter has so many white friends.

    [shrug] no one said they HAD to be nice...


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