Eccentricity Is Relative

“Sir this is a collect call from Captain Maggie, do you accept the charges?” Those words meant one thing, grandma. Oh she wasn’t eccentric at all, just loved collect calling. Sometimes, she was Dr. Maggie. My mom always picked up the phone. Grandma could talk for hours. Sometimes, my mom would set the phone aside & read her Architectural Digest, while grandma kept talking at Auto Bahn speeds.

She was somewhat normal with me. Every conversation we had, she asked, if I took my vitamins? I asked, ” Well do “Flintstones chewable count?” We laughed. Then I would give the phone back to my mom, who looked utterly annoyed. Grandma Maggie lived in Florida, a state I’ve never visited. Therefore, we only met once, when she came to visit when I was a toddler.

I honestly don’t know much about her. What I do know is she was a striking brunette, who loved Cuban food, & dying her hair wild colors. She enjoyed having ex husbands & making them cry. Also, she loved Bill Clinton & always fancied him, a hunk. In honor of Mr. Clinton, she moved to the Hotel Clinton in South Beach. It would be her home for years.

She claimed to discover the cure for AIDS & even signed Gianni Versace & Princess Diana’s condolences book (she transformed them into novels). When grandma Maggie died, the search for the ideal burial place commenced. Now, cemetery plot shopping is quite similar to apartment hunting. Folks look for the ideal place, somewhere in the shade & close to the parking lot are keen. We had grandma cremated.

Something interesting arrived at our door one Monday afternoon. Was it a delicious key lime pie delivery from Florida? No, it was grandma. She arrived at our doorstep in a white box. When I came home, I noticed her sitting on top of the fireplace. My mom asked, “Do you wanna carry grandma?” My rosy cheeks turned pale white. I politely obliged. The box felt somewhat heavy.

That night, I slept with the lights on. I was frightened to go downstairs. It was the first time; I had an urn in our house. My mom questioned my lack of energy conservation. She figured it was grandma that had me scared. After a week, I got used to our unusual houseguest from Florida. My mom’s plot shopping ended. She decided to buy dishes at William Sonoma, rather than bury grandma. Unfortunately, my mom died a few months after grandma.

The two ladies did not get along. So, my father thought it best that they not be in the same cemetery plot. Grandma ended up in my dad’s room. He set some beautiful flowers with her photo next to the urn. Years later, I asked my father about grandma’s whereabouts. He said very calmly “she’s in the garage.” This is her home & where she belongs.

I really don’t know much about my maternal grandma. She resembles my mom & I. However, we never had the bond. I do enjoy hearing about her eccentricities. Both ladies are now up in that South Beach in the sky. I still love how grandma was wilder than my mom & I combined. It puts a new meaning to grandmas who bake cookies & talk about the depression.

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