Tuesday, February 3, 2015

An Era of Threads Part 2

My admiration of Edna grew as I got older.  Any time Edna included me in was an adventure an uncomfortable feeling was always present. When the aerobics craze exploded in the 80s, she committed completely. With the legs of Tina Turner, Edna would walk into a conversation. Then tell everyone how great going to the gym was and they needed to go too.
Her car was a beige Buick. When Edna pushed the gas pedal you could hear fuel pouring into the engine by the gallon. Often if a driver offended her, the window would be rolled down. Her fist shook out with a string of obscenities following behind it. Edna could never understand why someone would get in her way.
Photo taken by JasonGillman
As former produce ranchers, Grandma Edna and Grandpa Johnny employed migrant workers during harvest seasons. They believed their workers were treated well and fairly. However, when Caesar Chavez began to unionize the labor force. They felt betrayed. Many a holiday table was filled with this topic. The turning point for them was during the grape boycott. 
My Grandmother with great pride told the story over a dry turkey. Driving by a market In her gas guzzling Buick , she saw protesters out front.
She turned a tight corner.
Stormed into the store.
Purchased a bag of grapes.
Then strolled through the protesters, slowly eating the grapes in front of them.
I thought Grandma Edna was fierce.
Even though I didn't agree with her-and THAT car ride home was filled with my parents discussing how wrong that was. I admired her fearlessness. The way she could walk through life, not carrying about what people thought. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t popular. It was the way Edna thought things should be, so the world just better keep up.
I wanted to be as strong.
Parents tried to protect us from Grandma Edna and Grandpa Johnny’s opinions. We never heard all of them, but I heard enough to understand what prejudice and bigotry was. The hour ride home after a gathering at their house was filled with conversation about people. How we shouldn’t judge people by the color of their skin, but by their character. That Grandma Edna could have her opinions but to keep the secret that those opinions were wrong.
When we stayed for the weekend while Parents were away, it was quiet. If I spoke to Grandma Edna, my words were weighed carefully. Conversation was weighed and measured within my mind. It was always careful.
The rhythm went like this: one night with the Grandparents. One night with the Aunt and Uncle. Aunt had a bubbly laugh and made me feel sparkly and special. Uncle was friendly and busy. The houses were like dark and light. Careful and carefree.

Then something mysterious happened.

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