Thursday, May 01, 2014

Kids Say The Darndest Things

Hot in Cleveland was on tonight, and in one scene, Elka, played by Betty White, is talking to a paramour about the fact that his father recently married. It's funny because they are both elderly, so one imagines his father to be 100 years old. The punchline is that his new "baby brother" has just turned 70, and "kids really do say the darndest things!"

This cute skit reminded me immediately of my Great Grandmother. Ida Bennett, from Humboldt, Illinois (likely not to be found on any old-timey map). Sweet and understated, I always made a point of listening, and memorizing, her laugh--as did I my Grandmother's, and my Mother's laugh. They would get, in their own words, "tickled."

My grandmother spoke often of the girl down the road that helped her out every now and again. Ruby. Ruby would deliver this or that, or come down and pull a few weeds while she chatted. In general, Ruby was just a good kid, in my Grandma's eyes. 

As a pre-teen, I always imagined this wonderful Ruby girl as a beautiful, kind, 16 year old girl. Tantamount to Cinderella or Snow White: so pure of heart, assisting the elderly and taking time to enjoy their company. 

Since Humboldt was a bit away, and we only visited every few months or so, years and years passed before the stars aligned and my path crossed with Ruby's: One her visits coincided with mine. A young teen by then, I was gobstopped to discover: 

Ruby was, like, 50! FIFTY, she wasn't a girl, she was fifty! At least, 50! 

Super old.

That's how I told the story, for years: My Great Grandmother was 90, and she referred to the 50-year-old woman as a girl, and I imagined something else, oh, how funny.

Honestly, now I can't even remember what Ruby looked like; I can only remember that I thought she was 50, and old as dirt.

Now that I am 51, of course....I am convinced she was probably closer to 80.