“You know grandparents that lived through the Great Depression? They’re all hoarders.”
When Bunmi Laditan said these words during a keynote session at the 2015 Mom 2.0 Summit, I just about hollered. Bunmi is the brain behind The Honest Toddler one of the funniest twitter accounts (and blogs) that I’ve ever encountered. While she told her story of scars and success, and the importance of telling your stories, I couldn’t get that little joke out of my head. It instantly made me think of my grandfather.
Grandpa was one of my favorite people. He was tall, with chocolate dark skin and hilarious. The father of six kids, he and my grandmother was hustlers on a different level. Having grown up in Jakin, Georgia during the Great Depression, they owned 4 businesses in New Jersey. They kept life as no frills as possible, and when something was FREE, they took it.
One of my favorite stories about my grandpa revolves around his 75th birthday. Each year I had no clue what to get him. Each year, we racked our brains about what to gift him, but as his oldest grandkid, I always remembered: no frills. Bulk is best. Free is fun.
He was the best kind of hoarder. He had a menagerie of plasticware, cups, and more. When he passed, my aunt found a Vintage Amica camera under his bed amongst old pens and chewing tobacco. Classy. She gave it to me because “you take pretty pictures on your internet site, so you’ll use it.”
After stressing for weeks, I found a lovely online deal on long-sleeve work t-shirts. He’d been retired for years, but had an obsession with trucker hats and “shirts for workin.” 2o brown and hunter green shirts were ordered for him, and I was actually excited about it. I knew it was pretty basic, but it was useful. It was Great Depression chic, and I was hear for it.
The shirts were packed up and mailed to grandpa. I twidled my thumbs and waited for a phone call. Then, on his actual birthday, I stopped waited and called.
“Heeeeeeey Meedeemow (more on that nickname in another post)!”
“So, did you get your present?”
“Yeah! I got all tha shirts. And you got my favorite color. Green. Them long sleeves are gonna be good for when I get in the garden. And I can wear ’em down to Georgia. I needed new shirts because you KNOW I wear out the ones I have until the holes come. I don’t buy new stuff. What for?”
“Ok, so you like the gift. I’m so happy!”
“Mmmm hmmm. You know that your cousins came up in here too.”
Uh-Oh. This was about to get ugly.
“Oh, did they? Did they come to celebrate your birthday with you?”
“I don’t know. I guess.”
Damnit. I could feel the rant building up in his voice. He was pissed about something. I’m thinking they didn’t get him trucker hats like they should have.
“Did they bring you gifts?”
“They didn’t bring me no damn gifts. They bought me a Gotdamn cake. I don’t need no cake! Get me something useful! Something wrong with them. I kicked them out and told them to take that damn cake with them. What the hell I’m gonna do with a cake? I live by myself!”
I cackled. I couldn’t help it. He was so irate about the cake situation. And I totally get it. You can’t hoard a cake. But you CAN hoard some kick ass t-shirts.
It’ll be 3 years this June since we’ve lost him to cancer. Still to this day, our conversations make me chuckle, sometimes late at night while I’m cleaning the house, or surfing the internet. He really was the best.