Building Windmills

I’ve Been A Baaaaaad Girl

One thing consistent with my Granny, if she was upset with you, you would feel it.  She was no passive aggressive woman.  Take for example, the time she wanted my grandfather to wax the living room floors.  This was back in the day when my mother and uncle were just young kids.  But this is a classic story that maybe even my great-grandchildren will know.

As far back as I can remember, my grandfather always held two jobs; one of prestige, the other for extra financial cushion.  I assume his suit wearing job paid the bills, sure. But being a Black family in the 50’s wanting to live the American Dream, there were still ends that needed to meet.  Especially with both kids going to private school, taking piano lessons and whatever other special extra-curricular activities that required dues.  Plus, I’m sure it was my grandmother’s idea to hire a housekeeper at some point.  From my understanding, having a piano and a housekeeper in your home were huge symbols of status and Granny was big on that.  To give her credit, her father owned his own business and her mother “never had to work a day in her life,” according to Granny.  And they had a nanny (who tried to chop of my grandmother’s head for the child was driving her crazy… but that’s another story).

So my grandmother was used to a certain lifestyle and my grandfather was going to give it to her.  Fair enough, right?  My grandfather took to buffing and waxing floors for the neighborhood.  He had a partner and they would do this in their spare time, outside of their regular work hours.  My grandfather also liked to enjoy a fair share of TV viewing.  After all, he worked hard everyday.  He deserved a little luxury in his life.  He grew up with listening to the radio so this box with the pictures was something of a marvel to be held.  And it held his attention for hours.  I do remember this driving my grandmother insane after he retired from the State Department.  I think he started his deep-see TV diving just to tune her out and somewhere along the road it became his escape from her incessant demands and tantrums.  Perhaps this was the day it all took a turn.  It goes something like this…..

It was a Saturday morning and my grandfather had been sitting in the living room enjoying TV bliss when my grandmother came in and asked him to wax the living room floors for her.  He said “Yes, Kitty.  I will do that when I’m done watching television.”

An hour or so later she comes back to ask him again, and he replies again with after he’s done watching TV.  By now, my grandmother is getting anxious because, like many of us wives, when we want our husbands to do something, we want it done almost immediately.  If we wait for our husband’s to do it on their own time, we know it won’t get done.  So either we do it ourselves or nag them to do it.  In this case, it became the latter.

Well, the doorbell rings and its my grandfather’s partner in crime saying “Hey, Smitty.  You ready to go do some floors?”  My grandfather grabs his coat and hollers a “I’ll be back!” and heads out the door to make some extra money.  This does not go over very well with the lady of the house, and Catherine being Catherine had to make a point.

My grandmother goes up to their bedroom, into the closet and picks out the best of the few suits my grandfather owns to yes, you’ve guessed it.  To Wax the Floors With.

I’m sure they were flawless by the time she was finished.  And she left them in the middle of the hallway floor, in front of the front door so he could see her handy work.

And if that wasn’t wicked enough, she gathered my mother and uncle into the car and drove to North Carolina to sleep at her parents house so my grandfather would have to curse the now rags that lay across the threshold of their beloved home.  I don’t know how they resolved it but I’m sure it was days later once the hard working man of the house cooled down some.  After all, he married this wild, infuriating woman.  He loved her very much…. 50 years of love drenched drama.

Photo taken by Jalila Simmons

The Grandfolks 70’s style.

I share this because I failed my challenge from two weeks ago.  Well, depending on how you look at it.  The challenge was to connect with the child within that brings light and love into the world.  I connected with the child within, all right.  But it was with the terrible two’s as I threw a mighty temper tantrum.  I wanted to go on a road trip for Christmas to visit family and my husband who works his tail off for us to be happy, just wanted to have a quiet holiday at home.  I didn’t do anything to any of his belongings, but I did disappear for a few hours just to cool down.  When I got back, I asked him why did it feel like he was ignoring my request and he replied with “I agreed to go hours ago.”

GEEZ!  I threw such a hissy fit that I totally ignored him.  AND was angry for real no reason.  I guess just to be angry because he definitely did not agree right away with going on the trip.  I had planned on going by myself and leaving him the kids but I recognized that as being seriously immature and not very Christmas-like.  All I really wanted was to be a family and be with other members of my family.  I did not want to be angry.  I didn’t want to hurt anyone.  This is just the time of year when we fully express our love for one another and the whole world; a time for peace.  And I was ready to fight for my piece… piece of mind!

Unlike Catherine, I did not give it to him nor run away from my husband.  I confronted him but only after my anger quieted and my ego settled.  I wanted things to be my way or it was, literally, the highway.  But that wasn’t going to get me what I truly wanted from my husband.  I just wanted him to acknowledge how important it was for me to spend the holidays this way; to feel surrounded by love.

He heard me and we drove out to my family’s home where we spent a few days eating, laughing, whispering late at night, enjoying being away from city life and watching TV.  We all enjoyed our time away… just like I knew we would.

A few generations removed helps to fine tune our character, yes?

Challenge for those who have something they want heard and feel like its falling on deaf ears:

Get Quiet

Listen to Yourself

Identify your Real Need/Real Feelings

Honor your Feelings Whatever they may be


Decide to be at Peace with Yourself and the resolution before resolving it with another.

We all make decisions with everything we do; to be happy, to be angry, to lose our minds and kirk out on coworkers because we had a very bad experience on the way to work.  Its okay to feel the feelings but before you do damage, decide to do no harm.  Not everyone is as forgiving as the men in my life.


This entry was published on 2013/01/07 at 12:00 pm. It’s filed under Personal Growth and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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