Dita Parker

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An education

We celebrated my maternal grandfather's 90th birthday over the weekend. He's unwell after a lifetime of splendid health and thus unwilling to go without a fight, and some XO cognac once a day. I'm happy I still have him, my last surviving grandparent, a live link way back into the 20th century.

Yesterday would have been my maternal grandmother's 90th. She has been gone for over a decade now, but she's still very much present in their home, my home of many childhood summers. My second set of parents. Born a day apart, married at nineteen on the eve of WWII, years given to the protection of fatherland and mother tongue, laborious reconstruction and four children later, they stayed together until her death.

He taught me how to tie my shoelaces, use an axe, start a wood fire and drive most any motor vehicle. She taught me how to run a household in general and how to cook without books in particular, and she read to me then taught me how to read. The gender division was glaring but I got to take part in everything, to benefit from both roles at play, to play freely with both.

They were eager to teach and I was expected to listen close and learn. I got to try out things my parents might not have approved of (had they known of my adventures and tutoring...) for the fear I might be too young, that I might get hurt. Did I ever. Nothing serious, of course. But when the lesson is to get up, dust yourself off and try again, and again, until you get it right, you have to forget about pretty and let yourself get gritty. They let me, time and time again, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

Wait. I wasn't going to talk about them, only tell you what I've been up to, sweetie daaarlings, because I know you could hardly eat or sleep or think straight not knowing where I'd gone, right? Tsk. Right. Anyway, no time left to talk about what I had in mind. I have a date with my WIP, and there is no such thing as fashionably late in Scandinavia, just plain rude. Since the title of this post isn't that off the mark, I think I'll leave both as is. Enjoy the rest of your week, wherever you are.


Shelley Munro said...

Your grandparents sound awesome, and it's obvious you've learned lots of cool things from them. It's sad that lots of children these days don't have as much to do with their grandparents or value their input.

Dita Parker said...

Hi, Shelley, and welcome to my den!

They were my summer camp and I was literally a happy camper, and that bond never broke.

You said it. Kids viewing their grandparents as nothing but old fogeys are missing out on so much.