In this world we live in today with the whole damn
internet I visit my friend's profile page and see
an entire folder of photos labeled "Gramma Jean!"
just like that, exclamation mark and all. In one
she wears a pirate hat, grinning, in another,
silly sunglasses and a genuine laugh. One picture
is of her at the base of a giant statue of Superman,
one hand planted firmly on his tall red boots,
the other flung out to the side. My favorite,
which is to say, the one that makes me hate
my friend the most, is the one in which Gramma Jean
has climbed behind a plywood cutout of
Supergirl's body. We're talking six feet tall
and fine as hell, a patriotic hourglass, and the smile
on her face is priceless, y'all, and the caption
is a quote from Gramma Jean! herself, it says, "this
is how I really look, not like a little old lady,"
as if she had to tell us. My father's father
died before I was born.
I once dated a boy
with three whole sets of grandparents. He was
thirty years old. One set had divorced early on
and happily remarried and he legitimately had
three entire pairs of grandparents. He called them
all the time on the phone. My mother's father died
when I was two years old. There is a photograph
in which he is holding me; in this picture his lap
reminds me of the statue of Abraham Lincoln: vast
and steady as stone. I have, of course, no memory
of him at all.
Another friend not only has both sets of grandparents
but for most of his young life had his great grandparents,
too. My mother's mother died when I was nine and I
did not handle it well. My father's mother physically died
my junior year of high school, but her mind went
years before that. I see photos of a longtime friend
on her profile page with her arms thrown around the neck
of her grandfather. My friend is nearly forty.
The old man may be wearing wrinkles and age spots
but his smile is young, and wild, and wide. I cry.