Today is my grandmas’ birthdays. Two years apart, they were born on the same day—although, they could not be more different.
Grandma P. grew up an only child. She was adopted by a wealthy real estate developer and his wife, and lived a privileged life, complete with fancy cars and clothes, a billiard parlor—even a wine cellar in the basement. She married Grandpa after about three weeks (or was it three months…?) of dating and tried for a very long time to have a baby. After two miscarriages and a newborn who passed away after coming home from the hospital, she finally got pregnant with my mom. A few years later, my uncle followed, and Grandma had the nuclear family she had always dreamed of. Always the lady, she wouldn’t leave the house without lipstick and earrings. She was feisty and opinionated, and a lover of tradition and everything beautiful.
Grandma H. grew up with twin brothers, and a mother and father who owned a jewelry shop. I remember her telling me that for Christmas she and her siblings usually got a book or a toy and an orange. The first time she received a paycheck, she used it to buy a watchband-like gold bracelet—which she gave to me when I was in junior high. Unlike Grandma P., she didn’t have to struggle to get pregnant. In fact, she had a shotgun wedding in her twenties after accidentally conceiving my uncle. My dad followed, and Grandma found herself running a household of men—which she did surprisingly well. This could’ve been partly because of her fantastic sense of humor. Grandma H. was known for pulling us kids aside at family gatherings to tell us dirty jokes. She was crass and easy-going, yet sensitive and fragile.
Despite any differences in lifestyles they led and opinions they held, my grandmas were dear, dear friends for over 40 years.
I was fortunate enough to inherit some of the best qualities of each. Grandma P.’s legs, outspoken nature and love of connection and communication. Grandma H.’s unwavering sense of humor, wild streak and easygoing-ness.
I think about these two lovely ladies all the time. Since both of my grandpas passed away before them, they became my single cohorts on holidays and at family dinners. Sometimes now, when I’m driving alone, I pretend the two of them are in my backseat and we’re heading out for a girls’ day somewhere. I can’t wait to see them again someday, hear the latest gossip from Grandma P. and a great nasty joke from Grandma H.
I’m sure they’re together somewhere right now, celebrating their birthdays with the pomp and circumstance they deserve, my grandpas and aunts and uncles by their sides, waiting for all of us to arrive and join in the party.