I would like to clarify the sassiness in my most recent post. “Sounds like you’re putting the old ones out to pasture”, my mom texted me. Which is most certainly not true. I love old people. Meryl Streep. Sean Connery. My grandparents, obviously. Grandpa, Grandma, may she rest in peace, Nana, Daddo, and our adopted Nana. And though the elderly population may hold mixed opinions about me, I hold respect for their wisdom and an inextinguishable envy for their matching nautically-themed sweatsuits.
My grandpa lives in an old folks home in New Jersey that my grandma chose for its civility and stateliness, aka resemblance to the set of Masterpiece Theatre. I enjoy hanging out with Grandpa there because it takes almost no effort to achieve the level of badass-ness that elsewhere would lead to a rap sheet. To start out, we’ll throw the kitchen into a tizzy by chucking the lunch menus that feature Beef Wellington and diabetic cookies and order PB&J instead. Then we might sit in the sun without sunscreen. Then we’ll go inside and pick up chicks—everybody knows Granddad—on our way to the pool. Maybe we’ll even borrow a teacup from the cafeteria and take it poolside—they’ll try to take it away, but that’s just How We Do. Back when Grandma was alive I would ferry her motor scooter around the building, and I was stopped a couple times by security for speeding. (“Excuse me, miss, do you know how fast you were going?” “Um, bunny?” “You’re going to have to take it down to tortoise in the future. I’m letting you off with a warning this time.”) I kid you not.
Grandpa moved out of their apartment to a shared room after Grandma died. I had the job of cleaning out the kitchen. There was still cake in the freezer from her birthday a week earlier. It was the summer I worked at Coldstone, and the cake had taken me an entire shift to frost. It was two tiers, chocolate and raspberry on the bottom, and bananas foster on the top, and I decorated it as a beachscape. Finding dry ice was more difficult than the Physics AP test, and the cake almost didn’t survive the drive to the shore. But there it was, the last chunks, cut up and frozen inside Ziploc bags, alone in the freezer. It seemed so— unfair—so unfitting, for a cake that held so much love to be alone in the tundra of a Frigidaire. “She loved it,” Mom said when she saw me standing there, motionless. “She couldn’t stop talking about it.”
Grandma was not the easiest woman to get along with; her words tended towards inflammatory, especially towards the end. She was in so much pain. I think it is very easy to let the stings cancel out the positives, but that doesn’t work, does it? Because if you net fifteen hugs and ten fights, you aren’t left with five hugs, are you? No. You have years of love and a couple of disagreements. And disagreements don’t mean you love any less. She was sharp, a very smart woman, who may have been more hip than my mom—but retirees would have more time to follow Marc Anthony’s career, I suppose.
I tease groups because I love individuals. I tease Irish-Americans because we’re snarky and biologically incompetent in the kitchen. I tease Villanovans because we obsess over our cableknit sweaters. I tease old people because—let’s face it, they’re hilarious. And this is all okay because I love. And when I look at my friends, I do not see “hipster” or “old” or “main line”, I see “friend”. So, yes, I’m going to give the old people a hard time. But I will never put them out to pasture. That’s for cows, silly.