Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rewriting the Script - reinventing Grandmotherhood

What should the new Grandmothers be like? Certainly not sweet, old and doddery  or cranky like the one in The Velveteen Rabbit  was  at the beginning. And while I long to be Funky, I am not sure I want to be parading in swim suit in the Hot Granny Pageant like the one in Brazil either.

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True, I would like to retain a semblance of sensuality and keep my body in reasonable  working order but I would also like to retain a little mystery and possibly dignity as well. Imagine the upkeep and the surgeries! I’d rather spend the time on retaining my mind.

I do have the greatest admiration for Grandmothers who take on bigger issues such as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo of Argentina who did not allow the military regime to forget the thousands of children they 'disappeared’ or those in Israel who stood between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians on the West Bank or those feisty Aboriginal Grandmothers who have taken a stand against alcohol, violence and sexual abuse in their rural communities, but I don’t just want to be noble either. I want to have fun too.


In that regard, I do applaud The Red Hat Ladies for fighting invisibility by being outrageous and having a good time, but somehow that isn’t quite enough for me either. Nor do I want to be completely self absorbed like those who go on SKI  (Spend the Kids’ Inheritance) holidays or those who retire fully to Lifestyle villages dedicated to “you – your health and wellbeing, your security, your desire for a stimulating environment and social companionship – as well as all the traditional facilities you expect in a quality resort, including: fully equipped gymnasium; heated pool and spa; lounge bar with billiards table; several lounge areas; beautifully landscaped gardens; BBQ and outdoor entertaining areas and much more.” Or promise a lifetime of shopping and coffee.

I want to stay and be part of the full spectrum of life – see young people, play with children, help others out if I can. I also want adventure and variety with each day not just the same as the last. Maybe I am being too greedy.

So far children’s literature offers the most promise. Roland Harvey’s Granny Appleby is more my style. [This is not the whole poem, which I still have at home, but a couple of excerpts to give you the general idea]:
The supermarket proved to be
A trial for Granny Appleby
The shelves were high and she was low
A featherweight, as grannies go.

"Ah, rats", she grumbled to herself
"The birdseed's on the highest shelf.
Unless I gain some extra height,
my Charlie won't get fed tonight".

The manager, who lingered near,
said, "having trouble, Granny Dear?
The problem is, you're much too small,
a tiny speck, a ping-pong ball.
A monkey would be bigger than you,
and somewhat better looking, too".

Insulted, Granny left the store
But came back with a mighty roar.
Windows smashed, alarm bells rang
and in burst Granny's bikie gang.
The last verse ..
The manager, who'd been so rude
was knocked into the frozen food.
And there he lay in cold repose
with two fish fingers up his nose.

I would be a female pirate if it didn’t involve robbing and killing – I have just been reading about Henry Morgan and his band of Brethren who changed the balance of power between Empires in the C17th. They were remarkably egalitarian and knew how to enjoy themselves as well. They even had the equivalent of worker’s compensation and extra brownie points for being brave.
In the absence of more concrete role models,  I’ll just have to keep being myself and hope I'll still have the energy to hitch across Iceland and sleep on trains if I have to, until I find something that fits. Just don’t expect me to stay home making jam.

I'm with Oscar Wilde:
"To get back my youth I would do anything in the world- except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable."

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