My Grandson and Me
When he still had cute hair.
Yes Jacob, at some point you will be keeper of the stuff. All the stuff I have been dragging around with me for too many years to count. Stuff that hasn't been 'unloaded' on your mother already, as my mother did to me, and her mother to her long before that. It is tradition, with the most meaningful stuff waiting until the end, and the stories that go with them.
And in case you were wondering, Grandma does have a bit of an evil side she inherited from her mother, and unfortunately your mother inherited from me. It's that part of me that just cannot let an innocent question go unanswered, that part of me that so wants to force you to remember that innocent question when you are forty years old, and wonder why you asked it. And maybe wish you hadn't...
When you asked me last week while I was at your house visiting, why your mother always makes a growling noise when she is irritated I told you, "Your mother was raised in the forest by a pack of wild dogs until she was three."
Knowing why I said this was the reason your mother had to race into the other room. She was stifling hysterics, and really didn't want the story told at this particular point in your life. She knew if you saw her laugh you would ask why. But just in case your mother conveniently forgets the story by the time this tid-bit that has been implanted in your fore brain decides to rear its curious head, I tell you now. Your mother sometimes has a selective memory.
Your mother was never really happy when your uncle was born. Much like I invaded my sister's perfectly groomed nest, so did your uncle invade your mother's solitary world. Your mother never really spoke much when she was small. She reserved her energy for more important things. In fact, she spoke so little that her grandmother, the nurse, said we should take her to the doctor for an extra check, just to be sure she didn't have a brain tumor in her leg or something. The doctor said your mother knew all sorts of words that a kid her age normally didn't understand, her vocabulary was incredible in fact. She had informed the doctor quite simply she didn't have anything to say most of the time. This worried me a bit. My sister was very quiet as well. Which usually meant she was scheming and I was going to be her victim again. Well anyway, your mother would certainly never speak to strangers.
One day when I went to the grocery store, I had your uncle in his little baby seat in the grocery cart, and your mother was seat-belted into the little child seat in the cart. This was way back in the nice old days when a pimply-faced high school kid would bag the groceries and actually follow us to the car, then load the groceries into the car. Well this particularly nice kid even unloaded your uncle and strapped him into the back seat. The problem arose when he went to lift your mother out of the cart and put her in the car too. He started to pick her up, and we heard a distinct growl. Neither one of us was sure what had just happened and the kid set your mother back down in the seat. We looked for a vicious doberman that had escaped it's tether. Hmm. Nothing. He picked your mother up again, partially out of the seat. Big mistake. Your mother growled louder this time and actually bared her teeth at the kid.
It must have been the look of horror on my face that made the kid apologize and say he really had to go, as he raced back to the safety of the store. I said to your mother, "Julie, why did you growl at the poor grocery kid?" Your mother in all her young years of wisdom and sparsity of words, replied, "It worked. I didn't want him picking me up."
This is the lesson of cause and effect, action and reaction your mother discovered at such a tender age. From that day forward, if your uncle dared approach a cookie that was on your mother's plate, she growled. She didn't stop it until she went to kindergarten and it upset her teacher.
We think this is why your uncle does not like dogs. He has two cats that he treats like dogs. They act like dogs and follow him around the house, wait in the windows for him to come home from work. But they are not dogs. And they do not growl.
I should probably confess as well, that after I called my sister to tell her of your mother's growling and subsequent explanation, I had to drive your mother to Maine. My sister could not live without seeing this in the flesh. We had to go to the grocery store, well, you get the picture.