“Tell us something you learned about a grandparent that surprised you.”
I briefly considered talking about the utterly shocking news that one of my grandmothers not only has a tattoo, but got a tattoo recently. We were discussing my own tattoos, and she just BURST out with this revelation. It was basically the best moment all weekend (which is saying something, considering it was the weekend I graduated college). Instead, I’m going to go with something a little more recent, a little less surprising and of more best-moment material.
I recently finished a draft of a TV pilot I’ve been developing off and on for the better part of two years. I sent out a quick “hey, who wants to read this?” update on Facebook, and, to my everlasting horror, received a comment from my Gramma Crook saying “I’d love to!” I was horrified not that my grandmother would take an interest in my writing, because she’s a writer herself and she’s always been supportive of my creative side. I was horrified because of the content of my script. You see, there’s… sex in my story. And… swearing. And worst of all (or so I thought) there’s… a lesbian couple presented in a non-judgmental manner.
I thought my Gramma would be shocked! dismayed! scandalized! that her single, virginal granddaughter would a) know what sex is, b) know how it works and c) would write about two young lesbians in a positive light (I mean, one of the lesbians is dead, so they’re not happy, but still).
The problem was… I forgot for a moment that my Gramma is easily one of the coolest women I’ve ever met. I forgot that this is the woman who makes saucy jokes and speaks up in favor of birth control despite her strong Catholic faith. I forgot that my aunt (her daughter) is close friends with the pastor of her church, who happens to be a lesbian. In short, I forgot who my grandmother was. So I sent her the script, with a short caveat saying “hey, this has sex/swearing/lesbians, so if you don’t want to read it that’s cool too, I totally understand.”
In return I got this message: “Actually, I’m not as innocent or easily shocked as you may think, having [a fair number of] years of life experience. And, at your age, I would not expect you to be ignorant of the ways of the world. …And as to the lesbian couple — we know several [gay and] lesbian couples… When you get to know people, the labels fall away, you enjoy them for all their good qualities and don’t sit in judgment of how they were wired from birth. Promiscuity in any orientation is not a healthy lifestyle, so I think society should encourage and support committed, loving relationships for homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. Churches are free to decide who they will marry, but separation of church and state should keep churches out of civil law.”
I felt thoroughly ashamed that I allowed this side of my grandmother to surprise me, because as soon as I read her words I realized that I shouldn’t have been surprised. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.
(This is not the grandmother who got a tattoo, but I can safely say that nothing about any of my grandparents would shock me anymore).
What about you? Has a grandparent ever surprised you?