Queen Margaret Intro/ Of Pistachios and Meat Tenderizers

My grandmother, Queen Margaret, as our family affectionately called her was one of a kind. Whenever she spoke of my grandfather, who passed seven years before she did, she would always say that “God broke the mold when He made Frank.” Well that’s how we feel about her too. For years my aunts and uncles have said that I should write a book about Grams (one of her other names). This may not be a book but at least I am writing about her and her outrageous antics. Here goes:

IMG_0063Of Red Pistachios and Meat Tenderizers

I moved in with Queen Margaret when I was 30 and she was 92. She had lived on her own until that point, not wanting anyone to move in with her after Papa passed away. When it was suggested that I move in her response was always, “I don’t want anyone living here. I like living alone. This way I can pick my nose or scratch my butt whenever I want.” Then suddenly, she decided she no longer wanted to be alone and I moved in.

Grams was a night owl. She could stay up until 1am, 2am, 3am easily. Since she obviously didn’t have a job to go to it wasn’t an issue. It didn’t matter how late she stayed up because she could sleep in the next day. Me, having a job, I had to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

One particular night I had gone to bed while she was still up watching television, probably The Kardashians or The Little Couple, as these were her favorite programs. I fell into a comfortable sleep only to be awoken a few hours later by a bang.

As I lay in bed I listened intently, trying to figure out what the noise was. I didn’t hear the clattering of her walker so I was fairly certain she didn’t fall (also there were no curse words). I didn’t hear anything else, just the blaring sounds of the tv. I closed my eyes when there it was again BANG.

Now I’m trying to figure out what she could be doing to make that noise. She wasn’t calling for help. She didn’t seem distressed. I was about to give up and go back to sleep when I heard it yet again BANG. My curiosity was peaked and I had to know what she was up to. She was known for taking things apart and not being able to put them back together so I prayed she had not attempted a home improvement project. I was no more adept at that sort of thing than she was.

I crept down the hall and as I approached the kitchen I heard it again. However this time I got to see what was causing the sound. There sat Queen Margaret at the kitchen table, a meat tenderizer in her hand, a pistachio crushed on the white placemat. Because of her arthritis she couldn’t open the pistachio nuts the way most of us would, so being an enterprising woman she found her own way. To make matters worse she had insisted on red pistachios because in her mind, they tasted better. Her fingers were red, the meat tenderizer was dyed reddish pink, the placemat was also stained. Grams looked up to see me taking in the scene before me at which point she asked sheepishly, “Oh you heard me?”

I stared back and said, “Of course I heard you. I just couldn’t figure out the noise. I thought you fell or something.”

She apologized in her sarcastic way that wasn’t an apology at all and ordered me back to bed. As I headed back down the hallway I heard the banging sound as she said, “Maybe just one more.” Then another bang “ok maybe two more,” another bang, “three more.”

I gave up and went to sleep since I knew at that point she was safe. Her hands were stained for days from the red dye as were the placemat and the meat tenderizer. I had so much fun telling her caretaker the next day and the family at our next dinner. These are the sorts of stories that live on even though Queen Margaret is no longer here. Damn I miss that woman (but not the red pistachios).