Apple, Pear or Potato?
Today would have been my grandmother’s 97th birthday. She lived to the ripe old age of 92 and she was full of energy up until the last three years of her life. I miss her. She was my hero.
Granny spent the early years of her life on a farm. She valued food as she had literally worked for it in her formative years. She abhorred waste and ate things that few would touch today. Her diet was laden with animal fat and starch as the foods that were cheap and plentiful tended to be filled with them. How she managed to stay thin into her twenties must be a testament to her workload, which was staggering.
I am fortunate to have a fairly comprehensive photographic record of her life. I have many of those photos framed around my house and I can smile at her through out my day. The photos taken of her in her youth show her as a shy, very thin child. I know how hard her life was and my heart goes out to that girl. As a young married woman and new mother, she glowed with happiness and was uncommonly beautiful. My favorite photos of her are the ones I took as a child for I see her in those photos through the eyes that took them…worshipful, appreciative, non-judgmental.
In her thirties, Granny started to put on weight. Perhaps a combination of an easier life and hormones or pure genetics because all the women in our family get quite round with only one exception and that family member was ill for her entire life. When Granny started to gain weight her husband was very upset, she said he never stopped “gigging” her about her weight. He commented about portions, dessert, implying that deprivation was her duty given her malady. I never met him, he died before I was born, but his spirit loomed large in our house as half the stories Granny told featured this mighty man. I kept a secret during my growing up years: I didn’t like “Papa”, in fact I thought he was a real asshole. Granny was still shrinking from his judgment and he had been gone for years. This made me so sad for her, that she had deeply loved a man who picked on her.
I had a nickname for my grandmother, one I used in private as others would have found it demeaning or at least confusing. I called her “Spud”. Granny was short and round but fell into neither the apple nor the pear shape. She was thick in the middle and plump all over giving her (to me) the appearance of a potato with arms and legs. I adored my Spud and she knew it. No one else in the family would have dared call her that. Nor, probably, would they have wanted to as they considered the name distasteful and crude. Granny loved it and giggled when I first started calling her that and smiled every time after. She was soft and round and so very loveable and I meant that nickname, as “I love you just as you are”.
I couldn’t know it when I came to call Granny “Spud” that I would end up shaped exactly like her. When I have those difficult moments of recognition, that I don’t look as much of society would have me look, I try to give myself the love and acceptance that I gave my own grandmother. My son, I know, feels the same way about my huggable form as I felt about Granny’s. A few years ago, when he was 9 or 10, he told me he felt so sorry for his friends who had skinny mommies. They have hard laps and they are not soft when you hug them.
So…thanks to Spud for her gifts to me, those of both the nature and nurture variety. I miss her so but she is with me in all I do.