Grandmom Goes “Grey”

One of the best and worst things that happened to me in 2012 was that I broke my Kindle.

I am both a voracious reader and a broke paycheck-to-paycheck schmuck. It isn’t hard to understand why I’d put the death of my beloved E-reader on the “worst” list. But best? Let me explain.

I have a borderline psychotic fear of debt. I hate the idea of owing money it will take me forever to pay back. So although I have credit cards, I only pull them out in true emergencies. As sad as it made me to see my little porthole into the world of new authors sit broken and lonely, I couldn’t call my new Kindle-less state an emergency. Instead, I started feeding my need to read by going to the library.

Here’s where the “best” part comes in.  I prefer my e-reader because there’s simply more options to choose from than what sits on the shelves of the little local library near my home. Going there brings back happy memories of Saturday afternoons with my butt plopped somewhere in the children’s section, picking out a Laura Ingalls Wilder book while Mom hunted down her next Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Even so, if given a choice, I’d have a new Kindle sitting on my coffee table.

But on my first visit to the library, I noticed a single shelf dedicated to large print books, and I almost did a happy dance.  My grandmother is at a place in her life where she has trouble filling long and lonely days. Her mobility is limited, and most of her friends live far away or are in poor health themselves. We’re always trying to come up with things for her to do other than watch TV. For a while, my sister and niece got her hooked on Angry Birds. She used to be a major crafter, quilting and making terrariums. She went through a “puffy sequined sweatshirt” phase that had us all cringing a little at Christmas. My sister recently tried picking her up some craft materials, but she said she could no longer see well enough to do them.

I suggested reading, and got the same response. Truthfully, the only things I’d ever seen my grandmother read were magazines and clothing catalogs. Still, I gave it a shot, and my suggestion was shot down just like all the others we’d thrown at her.

Me and Grandmom, 1970-something

Me and Grandmom, 1970-something

But that day in the library, I felt a spark of hope. Regular books probably were too hard on her eyes. But these big print suckers? Why hadn’t I thought of that before?

I told her about the big print books and asked her if she’d give them a try. She said she would, in that “I’m just humoring you” kind of way. I asked her what kind of books she thought she’d like.

She said “Love stories. But without a lot of sex in them.”

I gulped as I left her house and headed for the library. Love stories without a lot of sex in them? Was there such a thing?

I’m not much of a romance reader myself. But I have friends who are, and we sometimes spend summer days off lounging together at the pool. I’ll be sitting there with my next creeperific ghost story or bit of raunchy sophomoric humor or serial killer extravaganza, and I’ll glance over at my friends’ bodice-ripper and ask about it.

“Girl porn,” she’ll reply with a grin.

So I felt a little lost as I scoured the big print shelf in search of G (for Grandma) rated love stories. After a bit of browsing, I stumbled on an Amish romance.

Amish romance? That had to be pretty tame, right? I took it home to her, and she loved it. So I began grabbing a few more every time I went. Frankly, I was amazed that there were so many Amish romances to choose from. I became familiar with writers like Sarah Price and Barbara Cameron, and learned about a whole new realm in fiction.

That was months ago, and Grandmom has since branched out quite a bit. She’s delved into mysteries and dramas. She’s discovered she really likes Jodi Piccoult. She’s even given Stephen King a try. Sometimes, she plows through her books long before I get through mine.

Even so, I was completely unprepared for what happened the other day.  On a Saturday afternoon, I had lunch with my grandmother and then gathered up our books. The library is a short walk from her house, and in a park, so these trips are also a great chance for a little outdoor exercise. I had stuffed our to-be-returned books in my bag and was heading for the door when she called out to me.

“Yeah, Mommom?” I asked, my hand on the doorknob.

“See if you see that ’50 Shades’ thing while you’re there. If you do, get me that one.”

It was only the fact that my bag’s strap was wound pretty firmly on my arm that kept the books from thumping to the floor. From Amish romance to Fifty Shades? From “love stories with no sex in them” to the book that spiked dildo sales off the charts? I haven’t read the series, but again, I have friends who have. Some say it was stupid. Some say it made them forcefully drag their spouses to the bedroom, and in a few cases the spouses have confirmed that with great big grins.

“Mommom,” I sputtered. “You know those books have a LOT of sex, right?”

“I’ve heard. I wanna see what all the fuss is about.”

“I mean, LOTS of sex,” I floundered. “With like, pearl necklaces and stuff.”

She pondered this, but still seemed curious.

As it turns out, the library doesn’t carry a big print version of Fifty Shades.  Maybe we’ll order her the first one from Amazon and go from there if she likes it.

Grandmom has come a long way from reading nothing but catalogs, and all because I broke my Kindle.

About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Books, Family, humor, Reading, Slices O' Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Grandmom Goes “Grey”

  1. l'empress says:

    If your neighborhood library is part of a larger system — varies from place to place — ask about ordering books from other parts of the system. The bookmobile clerks will order for me, and I can check the system online to find out whether they have it somewhere.

    I stopped looking for large print books after I had my cataracts corrected, but I know how your grandmom feels about crafts. I can’t do fine work any more, and I work only with the larger crochet hooks. I can’t thread a needle, and I can’t see black-on-black.

    It’s not all bad, though. A button fell off my winter jacket and I asked my daughter to thread a needle for me. She bought me a new coat!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      I’d probably end up doing the same thing as your daughter did lol! I haven’t threaded a needle since high school home ec class, which happened to be one of the only classes I got a D in : ). There are several branches in the Baltimore County system, so I probably will check into that.

  2. Great story! Your Grandma sounds awesome.
    I have to confess that if my Kindle broke I might not replace it. I’m now addicted to reading books on my iphone.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      I’ve never tried that because I’m just not much of a “small screen” person, but I can see where it would be just as addictive as Kindle! I do miss mine a lot, but not enough to spend the money to replace it as long as I’m content with what the library offers. Since I’m going there for grandmom anyway, it isn’t even an extra trip : ).

  3. Shelly says:

    That is funny. Grandmothers never cease to amaze me. Never know what’s going on in their heads.

    Hugs and chocolate,

    • hawleywood40 says:

      I’ve always said if I make it to her age, I’ll be OK as long as I can still use the internet, watch my favorite TV shows, and have the occasional “adult beverage.” She has no interest in email or the internet, although who knows – she said that about reading until recently : ).

  4. Lafemmeroar says:

    I’ve read Lavyrle Spencer … very PG to PG-13 … the photo is beautiful btw 🙂

  5. Sharkey says:

    I laughed sooooo hard when I first heard this story about Mom Mom !!! I am so glad you wrote about it so everyone can see what a “cool”and “hip” person she really is!! I never had a relationship with my grand parents . My grand mom on my mothers’ side had 18 children of her own and really didn’t have time for “the grandchildren”. It was all she could do to keep her own kids occupied as a few of them still lived with her up until the time she passed away.( her youngest kid was the same age as my brother!! My mom and Grand mom were both in labor at the same time! LOL ) My “Grand Mother” ( as she REQUIRED us to call her) on my fathers’ side was another story. She was Hungarian and very strict and whenever we visited her we were not allowed to speak and we even had to ask to use the bathroom, ( which she ALWAYS ran into immediately after we exited, with a can of Lysol in her hands because she was afraid of the germs we may have left behind). I miss not having a relationship as most grand children do with their grandparents, but I am very fortunate to have a relationship with your grand mom, as you all so graciously allowed me to do. It’s not as close of a relationship, as I would like it to be, but nonetheless, it is far more than I had with my own. So thank you Pam, to you and yours for including me in “the family” which I have grown to love and respect as part of my own. I love you all………. GO MOM MOM!!!!!! Can’t wait for you to get that book in big print!!!!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      I remember you talking about your strict grandmother and her Lysol! It is so hard to imagine you and your sisters with all your fun spirits and humor in such an environment! I am soooo glad you are part of our family my Fly Sista! One of my favorite recent memories is me and you taking food down to her house during our football girls night and chatting, and when it was time to go you saying “Mommom, we need to go do another shot” lol! It makes her feel good knowing that you are so close by. I am a little scared of getting the book – I think its gonna be more than she bargained for. We’ll see though!

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