I have had four role models during my lifetime.
As a child, I wanted to be like my paternal grandmother. She was widowed while expecting my father. Grandma Barr was a strong, vibrant, independent woman, and the big bonus was that by marriage she was related to the creator of the comic strip “Garfield.”
In my teens I wanted to be like my maternal grandmother. We all called her Granny. She was an amazing woman. She outlived four husbands, buried three of her five children and was the rock for our family as we faced many other sufferings. She was a kind, spirited woman who just happened to believe that any Third World country could exist solely on dandelion greens.
As a young adult, Erma Bombeck, a truly gifted writer who could make any situation a laugh riot, was my go-to person. I spent many days reading anything she wrote. (I miss you, Erma).
Now, as an adult entering my “golden years” with the neato-keen diagnosis of dementia, I want to be Grandma Leslie.
She was not related, but was the grandmother of a dear childhood friend.
Grandma Leslie was never diagnosed with dementia, but trust me, all her blocks did not fit those little holes.
As I spoke with her granddaughter-in-law, Cheryl, we took a trip down memory lane.
She was a tiny, soft-spoken Irish lady. She went to live with her daughter in the mid '70s after the death of her husband.
Grandma Leslie had a secret from the president. If he were addressing the nation via the television, she would hide her cigarette behind her back. She didn't want him to see her smoking.
Patriotic? You bet she was! Every time she heard the national anthem before a ballgame, she immediately rose to her feet and placed her hand over her heart.
Most Saturday afternoons would find her seated in her green, velveteen, straight-backed chair, watching wrestling on TV. She was always hoping that Dick the Bruiser would tag-team her so she could get in the ring and body slam Pretty Boy Floyd.
The fondest memory held by her family was watching Grandma Leslie watch “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Her hand was always poised and ready for action! As soon as Granny waved goodbye at the end of the show, Grandma Leslie waved right back.
We enjoyed Grandma Leslie's company until she was 94 years old.
As my mind goes through whatever changes are in store for me, I hope I can hold fast to her memory and not turn into a “horse's patoot” that is so often used in describing a dementia patient.
To Erma, and all the grandmothers mentioned, thanks for the memories!