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Grandma Knows Best? Hmmm, maybe



Grandmothers are, for the most part in my experience, nice ladies. Ok, some of them aren't so nice and I know of at least one who refuses to be called a "grandmother." What does she prefer? I don't know. It was very confusing to hear the explanation and it didn't make sense to me. Bottom line? I think she's resisting the idea that she, like ALL of us, are aging. But is that a bad thing? Would we want to be some modern-day version of "The Portrait of Dorian Gray" or something out of a Vincent Price horror film? If you don't know Vince Price, perhaps you should stop reading at this point.

Another grandmother I know likes being the grandmother to her five grandsons. They adore her and it's adoration well-placed because she is a super person who is always there to help guide and defend them, as the case may be. Schoolwork? She's right there helping them and, if it's computers, she reaches out to everyone she knows to find help for them in that area.

Another grandmother is a delightful person who admits she has poor judgment. I can attest to that but I won't go into details on it. Let those sleeping dogs lie. She knows it, I know it and now you know it. The important thing is that she has come around to admitting it after several awful mistakes that cost not just money but friendships.


I had an aunt who was the picture of the grandmother all of us would want. She was talented in cooking, baking, crocheting, tending her garden and always ready with a warm, comforting hug or a kind word. I miss her terribly and so did my mother when she left this Earth far too soon. Her grandchildren never got to meet her, but I did and I could have told them about her, but they left the state and left no forwarding address. She never knew and that was okay, too.

We have Mother's Day and Father's Day and all those other days, but I'm not sure we have a Grandmother's Day. Might be something to consider for all those wonderful grandmothers who don't mind being called grandmothers and those of us who loved and miss them. Just one day a year to sit and remember the Toll House cookies, the walnuts and the awfully scary Black Forest coo-coo clock in the bedroom. Grandma why did it have to go off all the time? Yes, I know you brought it from home when you came here. Ok, I'll take another Junket pudding for dessert.

Too often we depict grandmother as dotty old ladies in lace shawls who keep forgetting what they came into the room to do. These women of valor lived through times we wouldn't want to know about and they helped raise us to be women of independence and to push for an education, the vote and careers. The somewhat dainty shoulders of these women carried the load for all of us and we walk upright because of them. Don't sell them short and make them some kind of joke with glasses sliding down their noses and hair piled up high in a neat bun atop their heads.

I worked with a great guy who had a mother-in-law I never met but I'll bet her grandchildren will never forget her. A retired schoolteacher, she came to Manhattan set on finding a job at 75 and she wanted it around the corner from her apartment so she wouldn't have to take a bus or subway to get there. She wanted to walk to work.

Guess what? She was "discovered" in a small women's clothing shop by a photographer who thought she'd make a great model. "Model," she gasped. "Model, you think I could be a model? I just wanted a job as a saleswoman here and you're telling me I can be a model?"


Turned out that she was in luck. The only "grandmotherly-type" woman who got all that work had recently gone on to her final reward. Rose was the perfect person for this one slot and she got it. She didn't mind print, but when it came to TV and looping, they practically had to get wild horses to bring her back for an hour or two. Yes, they paid her $200/hr. And, at that rate, she did it.

I used to see her face plastered on huge billboards on the New Jersey Turnpike and then she appeared in a white spacesuit at an ATM in a bank commercial. That made two grandmother models I knew.


The other one was a retired manicurist. Her niece worked with me at a hospital many years ago. Remember the woman who kept yelling, "Where's the beef?" in all those fast food commercials? Yup, that was her and she never intended to be a model, either.

The third grandmother I knew who became a model by sheer happenstance was a woman who worked as a clerk at a magazine where I worked. One of the part-time typist guys who was an actor was called in for a commercial and told to bring more women who might look like Italian relatives. The spot was for spaghetti sauce. He asked this woman to come with him. She got the job, he didn't.


Yup, grandmothers are popping up all over and they come in all ages, shapes and sizes. Most of them don't mind being called granny or grandma or even nana. They've earned it.

God bless all of them.


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DR. PATRICIA A. FARRELL