Sunday, June 6, 2010

My grandmother's best friend, Roberta

A few years back my grandmother stopped talking to Roberta, her childhood and long time best friend. There are a few disputed stories as to why she did this, but over all she accused Roberta of taking advantage of her. She said some nasty things to Roberta and my mother and I attribute it to her Alzheimer's. We didn't really notice she the symptoms until much later but looking back we realize she probably displayed symptoms much earlier that we thought. Either way, she cut ties with Roberta. After Grams died, I told my mother that it was probably a good idea to contact Roberta and tell her about Grams. We finally found her contact information and mom arranged for us to visit her this weekend.
I met Roberta for the first time this morning. It seems ridiculous because Grams always talked about her when I was a child and I feel as if I should have met her before now. She lives in New London, Connecticut in a beautiful old home. My mother actually stayed there when she was 17 and needed to get away from a broken heart. It was interesting watching my mother go through the different emotions as the day progressed: from sadness to nostalgia to joy from seeing Roberta and Roberta's children (with whom she was very close) to comfort and discomfort and the odd feelings she had about me being present in a place she was so familiar with almost a lifetime ago. It makes me afraid of getting any older.
Roberta told me a few cute stories about Grams. They met because Grams (Ida) moved in across the street. Roberta's family owned a horseback riding academy and Grams would go over there often to ride the horses and eventually work for them until she got married at the age of 17. They met when grams was probably a young teenager. Roberta told us about how grams and her snuck into the house of a woman (probably her aunt who she called Mother Berg) who had a collection of salt and pepper shakers. Well grams hated her so much she stole some of those salt and pepper shakers even if she didn't want her. That was just like grams, vengeful and ruthless. She was either your best friend or your worst nightmare. You never wanted to piss my Grandmother off!
Another story she told us was about how the two of them were walking back home from someplace. They were about a mile away from home when this guy offered to drive them. Well, Grams and Roberta didn't really care for this guy. He went to school with them and they called him a sissy (though who wasn't compared to Grams). They accepted his offer but as he drove them back, Grams, who was sitting in the back seat at the time, kicked the poor boy in the back of the head! I don't know why, but it makes sense. She just didn't like him.
Another time, when she was a bit older, Roberta set Grams up on a double date with her. Unfortunately Grams didn't like the guy Roberta picked for her (even if he was a nice guy) and she climbed all the way to the top of a water tower and refused to come down until he left.
While we were talking, Tommy, Roberta's son, came by and we talked more about grams. They were saying that George and Pauline (cousin's of Grams) would often bicker about going out and breaking up the fights grams and her husband would have. The story goes that Pauline would say "George, go out there and help her" and George would say "Help her? I think I'm gonna need to go help him!" cause grams would beat the crap out of him!

Anyway, that's all I have for today. A few good stories. She was a pretty hilarious lady. Very violent but also very loyal. I am really happy to now have Roberta in my life. She is crafty and overall seems like a really sweet and loving person. I wish I had met her sooner, though!

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