Grandma Was a Stripper!!!

Today is the 20th anniversary of the death of my mom. And…before you start the boo-hooing….thanks, but, I’m good.  My mother was a complicated person. Had she been born about 20 years later, so many things would have been different.  She would definitely have benefitted from Prozac and Oprah.  And, wine…..she totally missed out on wine……well. Not really….she was quite fond of Sutter Home White Zinfandel. It’s okay to laugh. Because even I remember that Sutter Home White Zin (because that is what the hip and cool kids called it) was what all the cool kids drank. And by, “cool kids”, I mean the parents of that generation. I don’t know anyone today who calls that “wine.”

Mom married young…..mostly, her childhood had been hell so she got pregnant early, got married, and moved away from that. She really didn’t get to be a kid and she had to grow up fast.  She had 3 children before she was 20. And was a Grandma when she was 34.  (Ouch…..I had my first kid in my mid 30’s.  She was a young “Great Grandma” too.) Her husband, my Dad….worked military contracts, so we moved. A lot. This was hard on her too.  She wanted to settle. She wanted to have a home. And stay there.

She was way under 10 when she started travelling all over the Bible belt with her parents….along with some weirdos, hucksters, animals, and tents.  My mom was a carny. Well, to be honest….her parents were.  While I am thrilled to have this piece of Americana in our family history….mom was ashamed of it. (I mean, hey….if we didn’t come over on the Mayflower…..we’ve got this)  Which is why I never heard about it until after my mother and both grandparents passed. Okay, that isn’t the only reason.

Not too long after my mom passed, I was helping my dad go through all of Mom’s things. It was late, I was getting ready to head home. Dad and I started to discuss the fact that Mom kept a lot of her past to herself. Or, away from her kids. I think it hindered any relationship any of us would have had with her. And Dad quietly said, “you know why she didn’t talk about it, don’t you?”  Um…no….even though I am in my 30’s you still treat me like a kid….so, no I have no idea. Dad said,……”Your Grandpa ran the strip show.”  “WHAT?”  WTF? – but, we didn’t say that 20 years ago.  And while I was still trying to wrap my sheltered, naive ears around what he just said, he drops another bomb.

“And, you know who was in the show?”  Okay…..every single one of you knows the answer to that. But, sheltered and Naive says……”Who? Mom?” because that would be preposterous. (My poor dad…must suck to realize how stupid your kids are.) When he told me it was Grandma,  I don’t think I stopped laughing until I had to actually breathe.  This is the BEST thing ever!  And my sisters are 3 hours later than the midnight it is now….I have to wait until tomorrow to tell this story!  Maybe I should have been embarrassed too….but, no.  All I could think was….how much did she take off?  This was the 40s…Bible belt.  What did she leave on?  Did she have those nipple tassels?  Could she make them rotate the opposite way?  

2 things occur to me…….1. Why am I surprised I write erotica when those are the questions in my head? And 2…..I should have known…those were my mom’s parents…who had never married. A story for another blog.

I miss and love you, Mom….I wish we could share a bottle or 2 of wine…discuss my new life….and tassells.  What great blogs she and I could write together.

Do You Know Jack?

It has been a challenging week. One of my coworkers passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. While driving into work, I received a frantic call from one of my employees. She was hysterical. After a few minutes, I was able to weave together a story: Let’s call the employee who passed away, “Bob.”  Bob died suddenly in front of his family. They called 911, and Bob’s wife went to hospital with her soon to be deceased husband. The 3 children (of unknown ages) were home alone and they were also frantic and hysterical. The employee that called me was on her way to their “house” (Damn, I love quotation marks) on foot…because she didn’t have a car. He must live close, I thought. Well, this was fun.

I called my boss and advised of situation and headed to pick up my walking employee. When I picked her up, she was headed the wrong way and was obviously an emotional disaster. Fantastic. I would really like to know when I became the “calm one”, because as my family can attest…..I was the “Stress Queen.” about everything…..all the time. But, I digress……..

We headed to their place, I had no idea what I would find. I was a little worried, though. I had owned rental properties and had seen some horrific things……would I see something I didn’t want to see? (haha…..just wait) When the widow opened the door, I was glad to know that the kids were not alone. The “kids” were teenagers. The death had happened the day before. In this very room. The apartment was meticulous. Small…..probably 2 or 3 bedroom. 2 adults and 3 teenagers. In a small place, if one thing is out of order, the place looks like a wreck. This home was peaceful, the violence of the day before leaving no trace. The entire leftover family was devastated. Crying. Sobbing. The widow has been in this country and married to her husband for 20 years. Her English was not so good. She had never worked outside the home. She didn’t drive. Her dead husband, and my employee, worked hard and made @$14.00/hour. This family felt isolated, their future uncertain. I wanted to cry.

After confirming the passing of my coworker, and calming down the widow, I took my other employee and we headed into work. Except, she was so distraught, she needed to go home. After I dropped her off, I headed into work. This was shaping up to be a fantastic day….did I mention it was a Monday?

Once an announcement was made, everyone was in kind of shock. Some crying, some stunned. Everyone quiet. I was wandering around making sure all were doing “okay” when I heard very loud sobbing behind me.  Turned out it was a 22 year old female who had just read the news when she arrived. I brought her to a quiet office where she could compose herself and she proceeded to verbally throw up on me: she and the deceased had been dating (despite the 30 year age difference); they were in love; they had spent the day before in bed and “he was so happy he was jumping all over the bed”….not a visual I want seared into my brain…..a 53 year old balding man (that I worked with) jumping naked on the bed like a 5 year old. She went on and on…..seriously, why on earth would she tell me this? This was worse (yet funnier) than anything I had ever seen inside any of my rentals.  

And that is where I am…..saddened and worried about the family and saddened by the devastated 22 year old. Surprised and a little bit impressed by my fellow coworker. And, disgusted, totally disgusted. Taking advantage of young, ignorant girls. However, I was 22 once and I made all of my own decisions. Good or bad.  But, someone old enough to be your father and in a position of authority should know better.

The next day, the 22 year old was still in a state. She felt that the rest of the office was talking about her (they were). She thought management had spread her story (we hadn’t). After all, she had only told 5 or 6 other people that work here……..

We had been investigating this employee for lots of overtime reported, but not actually worked. (Now it looked like we had been providing a lovers nest and paying for him to “love” in it.) We had been trying to figure out why he needed the money all of a sudden. In addition to that, we had been working with him regarding some of his behaviours and it looked like he was about to be in the middle of a career shit storm. I am sorry for his family and all of our loss. I really am. But, as the layers of this “cheating” onion are unpeeled and more secrets (more girlfriends, possible pregnancies, et al) are revealed…..I find that I can do nothing but laugh and laugh and laugh……..he was doing all of this right under our noses. And this stuff was huge…..I wasn’t planning to attend the funeral….but, now….now, I am thinking this could be entertaining. And devastating. Sad. But, funny. Tragic, but funny.

You think you know people………