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Is it weird to say that an 84-year-old woman keeps me young?
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My Grandma Nan may have arthritis, bad eyesight, and a couple of new knees, but she is an unstoppable bundle of geriatric energy. Her age is merely a number that keeps her humming show tunes from the 1940s into the wee hours of the night. It doesn’t stop her from moving furniture, sculpting marble, and driving ten miles per hour over the speed limit.
Once, I was on the field outside my family’s old log cabin in Canada where we go every summer. My brother, cousin, and I were tearing apart a dilapidated dock with hammers so that the wood could be reused. We were doing pretty well, I thought. The dock was more or less demolished. But there was one plank that—despite the combined might of three youths—would not break off. We must have grown visibly frustrated, because Grandma Nancy soon came over.
“Here, let me help,” she said.
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She proceeded to pull a chainsaw seemingly out of nowhere, and began to hack the dock to smithereens. It was like the beginning of some bizarre horror film—Chainsaw Granny. When she was done, she stood up, and hobbled back to her chair.
Grandma Nan has always lived by her own rules, even when it comes to mundane, grandmotherly things like baking. I have always looked forward to spending time with her in the kitchen. She taught me that the real joy of cooking is inventing your own dishes. Together, we look at recipes for ideas, but inevitably veer off course with our creativity. We have made mouthwatering raspberry pies, scrumptious lemon squares, and surprisingly tasty potato chip cookies. Of course, we have made vile creations, too. (Tip: Don’t make cookies out of sour cream and raisins.) But the outcome is not what is important. It is the process of exploring the unknown with no repercussions.
Grandma Nan has shown me that you are never too old to use chainsaws and never too young to invent recipes. By example, she has given me confidence in my actions. I can sing songs in Spanish in front of audiences, and dance to music on my iPod as I walk down the street. Whenever I feel constrained by limits placed on me, I think about Grandma. If she can do so much at age 84, shouldn’t I be able to do whatever I want? Surely, it’s in my genes.
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