The Polar Bear and I pulled in early this morning from a whirlwind drive from Ottawa down to Virginia, up to Philly, then back over to Ottawa. It was an amazing 4 days, and we made the absolute best of our time. It's one of my goals to spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6 (see No. 2 in the list to the right), and hanging out with grandparents is a perfect way to do that!!!
My Grandmother (my mom's mom) was placed in an assisted living facility in Virginia a few weeks ago, and I knew she wasn't happy there, so I figured a visit might take her mind off things. I was REALLY glad that I went. She's still a feisty busybody, and it was great to see that she's still got a strong will and spirit:)
A few cool things about Grandma:
- She raised me.
- What she couldn't teach me, she exposed me to. She put me in ballet, piano lessons, flute lessons, modeling..on and on. The arts that she surrounded me with have become my life.
- She encouraged Spanish (when I wanted to take French). While both would be helpful in my career, she knew that Spanish would be essential.
- She took me to see the police attack and burning of the MOVE homes when I was in kindergarten. Holding me in her arms, she got on local TV and exclaimed, "This is America! This doesn't happen in America." She started my civil rights and social justice work that day.
- When the Navy wouldn't admit Blacks, she joined the Army (and fibbed about her age!)
- Every year, she organized a cookout for the local police and fire service units. HUNDREDS of them would pour into our Southwest Philly back yard (actually, my Grandmother got her neighbors involved and used their space too!). We would spend hours peeling potatoes (for the potato salad) and picking corn husks (for BBQ'd corn on the cob!). It was a feeding frenzy!
Then we set off to Philly for a visit with my Pop-pop (my dad's dad). He's a 96 year young chap who still walks at a police officer's pace and doesn't skip a beat. He doesn't drive anymore, so the Polar Bear and I picked him up from Jersey and hung out in South Philly for the afternoon. It was sooooo much fun! He'd lived in Philly for years (that's where my immediate family is originally from) and led us on a tour of his old neighborhood, the stations where he was based as an officer, and spots where he had fond memories.
A few cool things about Pop-Pop:
- He repairs EVERYTHING himself.
- He was the first black police chief in Philly. He wrote a book about his experience - Black Cops. I'm really proud!
- He build a swing for me and hung it in his garage. While he worked on gadgets and gizmos, I played on that swing to my hearts content!
- He makes albums for every event. He takes manila folders, binds them together with red tape, and places photos in them with captions that he types up.
- He's a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and supported every A-PHI-A pageant I did. When I was in the Miss Massachusetts pageant, he made signs and banners for the family cheering section. It was awesome!
It was such an amazing time to connect with both of them, and especially now when I'm coming into adulthood. Entering adulthood. Knocking on adulthood's door. Yeah - that's more like it:)
Being with grandparents reminded me of my youth, and it was so refreshing. It was also an opportune time to learn more about my family's past, fun traditions, and learn more about our history.
I live pretty far from all of my family, and it's been difficult to get away for a good, juicy visit with folks. This weekend, though, I got it in for sure, and I hope to do it again soon!
ciao for now!