Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Famous Grandma

A neighbor came by to visit my gma the other day, while I was there, she filled him in on the latest news and he responded "Well it looks like you might be getting your 15 min of fame" and further implied that it was her once chance to do so.

It took everything in my power to keep from bursting out laughing, as much from shock and disbelief as from humor. Gma was a newspaper corespondent (and photographer) for over 40 years. She's covered everything from the mundane happenings at the local elementary schools (not to mention the school board meetings for those schools) and new bishoprics being called (there was a time, not that long ago, when such a thing warranted a picture in the paper), to Ron Lafferty and the Osmonds as the started this new celebration they called "Stadium of Fire." (I had no idea who the Osmonds were at that time, other than they were supposedly famous, and the 'Next Generation' who were also a big deal that year, were just a bit older than me and kinda cute even if I was too young for that kind of thing).

In addition to having thousands of bylines over the years, she's had multiple articles published in books, and assisted one of her dearest friends to complete "The History of American Fork."

If she goes anywhere within city limits and doesn't know at least half the people, she figures there's something wrong. (unless of course it's WalMart, then she'll only know a half dozen people). Her experiences have allowed her to 'rub shoulders' with the local fame as well, from former mayors and other outstanding citizens of the community, to local newsman of tv fame, and even Smokey the Bear! ;)

And if that wasn't enough, she managed to get another "15 minutes" a little over 30 years ago, when she survived being hit by a train. (The article held a prominent position in my baby book.)

Gma also survived Polio when she was younger, 'enjoying' an extended stay at Primary Children's Hospital, and later leaving her a perfect candidate to appear on tv as part of PCMC's annual telethons.

For a long time I was better known as "Ann (Annie)'s granddaughter" than I was by my own name. As a teenager struggling to form my own identity, that was purely torturous, but's not so bad.

But the coolest part, isn't the fame, or even the experiences that's had along her journey, it's the love that all those people have for her. And the fact that all her 'fame' never kept her from being just this small town girl who valued her family and friends above all.

As I watch her phone often ring off the hook with old neighbors calling to check up on her, nieces and nephews calling to check on her, even driving hundreds of miles just to take her out to lunch, I can't help but wonder if our society has gotten away from that now? Sure, the internet has made it possible for people clear across the world to talk as easily as if they were over the fence from one another. But have we lost that "over the fence" feel? We definitely don't need to depend on our neighbors quite the way they used to, and tv and video games (not to mention air conditioning) and whatever have taken us inside, and away from those summer evenings out on the porch visiting with whoever strolled by. It will be interesting to see in 40-50 years just what society has become.

In the meantime, I'm glad I have my famous grandma serving as an example to me.

Bytheway, her latest bout with fame: her 40+ yr old pine tree that she received from the forest service after doing a story for them, and promptly planted in her yard, which has now taken over her yard and towers over her house at over double the height of said house, and which terrifies her every big storm as she's sure it's going to come down and take out said house, has been selected by Gateway Mall for use as their Christmas tree this year. In return, they're not only cutting it down for her, but removing the stump, and re landscaping the area. They say they've never had a tree that big before so it's proven quite a challenge.

Despite the relief it will bring next time it storms, Gma is understandably having a hard time letting it go. Personally, the thing has never been the same since they had to cut off the bottom branches which were obstructing the view of the driveway, but provided a great place for us to play tag. (Yes, we were simple children who delighted in running circles around a pine tree and trying to guess where exactly on the other side our companion was). I'm also curious to see how many more bird's nests fall out of it. It loses, on average, a couple a year, but I have no doubt there are many, many more still in its branches.

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