The skeptical granddaughter

By the

September 6, 2001

When I got to college, I became more selfish. Any change to my life was horribly inconvenient (even if it improved my family’s life) if it changed my status quo. Case in point: My first year, my parents decided to move one block to a nicer house. Granted, my parents liked the new house better and were actually living there all year, but I threw a tantrum. I just didn’t want any more change.

My step-grandfather died the first month I was at Georgetown. The day my plane left, he found out that he had cancer, and within the month he was gone. At the time, I just really didn’t process the information. I didn’t know how to feel. We were never particurally close; I always felt as though he saw me as the annoying kid playing in the living room when he was trying to watch TV. I thought his death was sad, but what was more poignant were smaller events afterwards, such as when Grandma Max made six servings for Christmas Eve dinner rather than five. I suppose I felt worst because Grandma was lonely and that her life changed.

I figured that after he died, Grandma Max would be around more. She lived in our town, and I knew that my mom didn’t get to see her as much as she wanted to. I guess that I never really thought that Grandma Max would start dating again, but during exam period last year, my mom called to say that she was worried because Grandma Max spent all of her time talking to someone on the Internet that she met at a former pilots’ convention. My mom had read one of the e-mails, and said it sounded serious. He had sent her a dozen roses for Mother’s Day.

When I got home for summer vacation, Grandma Max talked a lot about Ben, the guy that she was “communicating with.” She said that he spoke many languages, had been an attach? to Egypt and was involved in a drinking game with Russian troops after the Nuremburg trials. It sounded to me like the guy was full of crap.

Granted, I knew that Grandma Max could take care of herself. She was never the type of grandma that sat back and watched TV while knitting. She was the kind of grandma that would challenge you to play baseball and then kick your ass. She never did anything halfway; Mom used to joke that she wouldn’t just push the lawnmower, she would run with it. But knowing how special my grandma was made me feel protective?I knew that tons of men would want to date her, and I just didn’t think that a guy she had only met once in person and had been talking with over the Internet was the right one.

I felt like my grandma deserved a break. Even though I wasn’t ever filled in on the details, I knew that her romantic life had been rough. She divorced my grandfather when my mom was a little girl, at a time when single mothers just didn’t exist. She went back to school to become a high school English teacher and raised my mom by herself, and I think did a pretty damn good job. Around the time my mom was in high school, she remarried again. Neither Mom or Grandma really talk about those times; the marriage was unsuccessful, and I think they would rather forget. Around the time that I was born, Grandma Max married again, this time to the step-grandfather that I would get to know. The marriage seemed to function, but growing up I would overhear enough conversations to know that she wasn’t happy. I didn’t want to think that my grandma was jumping into a relationship with Ben too soon and would end up disappointed.

At the beginning of this summer, Grandma Max was going to see Ben for the second time at the following year’s pilots’ convention, this time in Las Vegas. My mom and dad told her that they thought it would be a good idea if she spent time with Ben, maybe traveled with him, but to please not get married, there was too much at risk. A week after she came back, she was engaged. We thought she was nuts. She was going to get married to someone she had seen twice, and we hadn’t even met him.

Soon after, Ben came to Florida to meet us. I was dreading it. I was determined that I wasn’t going to like this man, and Grandma Max wasn’t getting married. Granted, he wasn’t as bad as I thought he would be, and he kept telling us how much he loved my grandma. I was still suspicious. I was in favor of a full background check to unmask this intruder.

I started to come around a couple of days later. We were having them over for dinner, and Mom was grilling out, with a large, propane grill. When she went to light it, it exploded. She came running in the house, her hair was still on fire. While my father and brother and I got Mom in the shower and then put coldpacks on, Ben went outside to make sure that the grill was off and that no one else got hurt. I could tell that he actually cared, and I didn’t think anymore that he was faking.

This past weekend I went to their wedding, which was in Oklahoma City where Ben lives. Throughout the weekend, I could tell how much Ben and my grandma care about each other; they held hands almost all of the time. After seeing his house and talking to him more, I know that he was telling the truth. He actually does know those languages, and while I still don’t buy the drinking game story, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

I want to tell my grandma that I’m sorry for being skeptical. She is one of the smartest people I know, and I should have trusted her judgement. And even though she didn’t get to know Ben in a traditional way, within a couple of months they had exchanged around 840 e-mails. Grandma, you’re tough as hell and I love you. You deserve the best, and finally, after all this time, I think you are getting it.

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