I have never met an elderly Jewish lady who didn’t make me smile. I can’t quite explain why the Hebrew women of the geriatric generation have the effect on me, but without fail they do. And perhaps the most noteworthy woman from this category is my grandmother, who at age 79 naturally maintains her full head of black hair.
But Grandma B isn’t just a hair stylist’s dream come true, she’s a first generation immigrant who struggled in the Heights as her parents tried to gain a footing on American soil after fleeing Nazi Germany. The struggles of her youth stay with her today, and she can best be described as the eternal pessimist. She has an uncanny ability to find the negative in almost every situation.
And now, while she struggles to gain her footing again, Grandma B has become particularly dependent on my grandfather, a man who my mother is becoming eerily similar to as they days pass. She expects him to respond to her every beckon call, and if say an 84 year old wheelchair-bound female neighbor should call on his services, Grandma B goes on the attack.
The other day, said neighbor asked if Grandma B could lend her some mayonnaise, as she was preparing her Thanksgiving feast and lacking a vital ingredient. Well, Grandma B paused, thought it over, and then declined to fulfill her request. When asked why she denied her neighbor an ingredient that was notably chilling on her refrigerator door, Grandma B nearly shouted, “It’s not proper for a man to bring over mayonnaise.”
You see, Grandpa B obliges this neighbor every few days when he stops by to plug in her wheelchair so it may recharge. And, well, electrical appliances fall within the man’s domain. But kitchen ingredients, heaven forbid. His very machismo would come under attack. Or, as Grandma B phrased it, “And let’s say he did bring it over, what would he do with it? It’s not like he can cook.”
Silencing my latent Wellesley feminist, I laughed. Quite hard. To think that after fifty years of women’s lib my grandmother still subscribes to antiquated notions of gender roles is, as much as I hate to admit it on my blog, rather hilarious. It’s as of she has been living inside a time capsule, and no one has yet informed her that it’s 2011. 2/3 of people across the globe own cell phones. Record players are antiques. And two year olds play with iPads on the subway, which by the way no longer costs a nickel, but a whopping $2.25.