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All of my grandparents were dead before I was born.  Seriously.  It’s not as harsh as it sounds.  For me, it was just a fact of life, like the fact that I was from a big family and that my hair was brown.  Grandma and Grandpa Mac (mom’s parent’s) and Grandma and Grandpa Hester (dad’s parent’s) were no longer with us.  Because of this, everything I knew about them growing up came second hand, from stories brought up over tea and Milanos by my parents and siblings.  What I learned that surprised me, at the ripe old age of “I should have known better” about 17, was that most of the things I “knew” about my grandparents, Grandma Mac in particular, were dead wrong.

There she is, the lady in question: Grandma Mac (aka Frances McLellan). That's Grandpa on the right. Credit: Thanks Coco!

In my mind, my grandmother was a real bad ass.  Oh yeah.  As far as I knew, she was one crazy mo-fo.  According to one story, she used to participate in all night dance-a-thons, and I don’t mean like a Golden Girls dance-a-thon with waltzing and fox trotting.  Oh no.  I mean like a dance-on-the-bar-top til 4 AM kinda of dance parties.  That’s what I heard, at least.  Who knows what they really told me, because I also heard that she had a metal plate in her head because she was in a motorcycle accident.  Apparently, she was riding on the back seat of a “gentlemen friend’s” bike and somehow they crashed, and she was injured so badly she needed a full-on metal plate in her head.  Bad.  ASS.

Here’s the only problem with everything I “knew” about Grandma Mac though: I was seriously convinced that she did these things, and many others, as a grown up.  No wait.  Not just as a grown up.  I thought Granny had lived it up as a, well, granny.  From the stories I heard, I was completely convinced that Grandma Mac was a bad ass because she was a bad ass grandmother.  For some reason, in my young mind, I heard the words “Grandma Mac” and “all night dance party” and assumed they were concurrent.  Picture it: an old lady, whipping it up atop some random bar, letting her gray hair down, and then, hopping on some guy’s bike and driving off into the tragic sunrise before having that terrible accident.  Bad ass.

Amazingly awesome as these thoughts are though, they all apparently happened before she was ever married, as a young gal, wild and free.  I didn’t find this out until I was at least in high school.  The funny thing is though, as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who thought this about my grandma.  At least two of my siblings, neither of whom had met her either, thought the same thing.  When we all realized how far off we were in what we thought about her, we had a good laugh, told mom, and laughed some more.  The best part is, finding out the truth didn’t make me think she was any less the bad ass I had always thought of her as.  On the contrary, it made her even more awesome somehow.  And, sometimes, I still like to think of her as the silver-haired minx, living it up after the kids were grown, without a care in the world.  Either way, Grandma will always be a bad ass, in my mind at least.

In response to prompt number 3 in this weeks edition of Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

Mama’s Losin’ It