I was driving down the street the other day checking my phone at a stoplight, as I am a bit obsessed, when my grandmother, La Unia popped into my mind.
The memory ~
We were at brunch one Sunday with my mom, my sister, sister-in-law and some of my girlfriends. This was back in the day of pagers, not cell-phones. I was a Real Estate Agent at the time and so was my girlfriend Glenda. Glenda's pager kept going off while we were dining at the table. Of course, she would pick it up and look every time it went off. It was then that my grandmother said, "What do you do with that thing when you're having sex? I'm just wondering because you check it every five-minutes!"
Everyone's mouth dropped open and we laughed and laughed. That was La Unia --no non-sense...no edit...just real. I guess that's where I get it from. A good sense of humor and a taste of smart-ass runs on both sides of my family, maternal and fraternal. So I have it honest. Things just fly out of my mouth that are funny, honest and real on a daily basis. My kids can't stand it, but that's just too bad. It's who I am. I am thankful to Grandma for that.
As a matter of fact, I remember my fraternal grandmother for much of the same thing. She would tell you off in a heartbeat. There was nothing warm and fuzzy about her. As the sign on her vanity table said, "Don't go away mad. Just go away!"
Ida V, as we called her my father's mother one day, kept calling me Carol instead of Karen. When I corrected her saying, "My name is Karen! Not Carol." She retorted, "If you don't want me to call you Carol...I won't call ya nothin!"
Me and Grandma La Unia
On this Mother's Day I am thinking of my grandmother, La Unia. I know she is smiling down in awe of the mother that I have become. She probably would have never imagined it. She would have loved my husband because he takes such good care of me and he loves to talk as much as she did. They would have a talking good time together.
You see when she died...I was still in my mid twenties and I was a finger popping, partying, diva. Sure...I had the steady boyfriend, whom she also loved. I was a great Auntie to my little nieces and nephews, but a mother? No! Not even on the radar.
Grandma would come and spend months at at time with us. She lived in St.Louis. We lived in Los Angeles. She was there for all of the important moments in my childhood. She was there for Prom and graduation from high school. She was there to see my first apartment. Yes, she came and spent the night at my apartment even though now I know she was devastatingly ill at the time.
La Unia got on my nerves, just like my mother does now...but I loved her madly. My grandmother was a professional cook for a living. So whenever I would attempt to cook, even something as simple as a hamburger, she would tell me how I could do it better. A hamburger? Really Grandma? You think I don't know how to make a hamburger? At the same time, if I asked her to make me an apple pie...she wouldn't hesitate.
She never held her tongue. I don't think she knew how. If she had an opinion, you can bet she was going to share it with you, whether you wanted to hear it or not.
My mother who now lives with us is the exact the same way. My kids ask ME a question...my mother answers it. I'm like -Hello he is talking to me! She gets involved in every conversation and argument that goes on in this house -and there are a lot!
My mother and her mother would fuss, fuss, fuss at each other. Yet, they couldn't stand to be away from each other for long. I remember my grandmother looking out the window, waiting for my mother to come home from work each day. She couldn't wait for them to start fussing at one another!
La Unia Hinton & Beverly La Unia Grandma and my mom
My mother and I can be the same way. For many years, I lived here in Texas, while my mother was still in California living with her husband. I missed her so much. Yet, we would get into it every time I visited. She would say or do something to piss me off. Yet, I would cry every time I drove away to drive to the airport when it was time to come home.
When I would see daughters, and mothers out shopping or having lunch together ....my heart would ache. I was so sad that I didn't have my mother close enough to do those things with on a regular basis.
My mother would call me and my grandmother Jezabels because we loved big, colorful jewelry and loud, vivacious lipstick and makeup. My mother was ultra conservative. We didn't care. Grandma and I would get dressed up and go to lunch and to the movies, with our bright red lipstick and our dangling earrings thinking that we were too cute for words!
Now my mother, Beverly LaUnia lives with me. We go to lunch and have margaritas at noon on a regular basis. She sends back her food, if it's not piping hot, and served as ordered. I have taken up her love for wine to help soothe the nerves most evenings, although she can still out drink me! And her mother could out drink her! I can't keep up with either one of them in the drinking department. We go to the occasional movie together, where she complains about how cold the theatre is. Sometimes, she complains about the amount of sex or cursing in the movie, although she can curse like a sailor herself! She stays all up in my business, never holding her tongue. At the same time, she helps me keep my head on straight --reminding me of every detail that I forget. Apparently, I did not receive her organization gene. I'm sure my unorganized house drives her nuts. You see...she has nothing else to do besides mind my business. She cooks for our family on somedays that we would otherwise have cold sandwiches, or wine for dinner. For this I am eternally grateful. She also has those days, where she sits and waits for me to feed her like my 4th or 5th child. She helps me with my laundry. In fact ...I can't keep up with her in getting it put away. She tells me like it is when I am being mean to my husband. Some days, I am still like her little girl. "Are you going to clean your room before your husband gets home?" "Your husband hasn't eaten today. Aren't you going to feed him?" "Your closet is a wreck! You need to spend the day in there cleaning it up!" Stay out of my damned closet Mom! She reams me everyday about how much time I spend on my computer. While I get on her about how much time she spends sitting on her butt -watching that annoying Judge Judy!
Me and Mom -Girls Night Out
Having her live here with me, I can see the dynamics of our relationship is just like the relationship she had with her mother. They fussed and fussed and loved each other madly.
When we lost Grandma, I thought that my mother would completely fall apart. She did not. She was much stronger than I ever imagined she would be, although she still misses her to this very day. But now, we think of Grandma with nothing but happy thoughts and laughter. Thankful to her for the gifts that she gave us while she was here.
When the day comes, that I loose my mother and I hope that day comes, much later than sooner. I will think of her, smile and laugh about all the things she said and all of the gifts that she has given me.
Loving you La Unia Hinton, and Beverly LaUnia on this Mother's Day and always...