Valentines and Self-Realization

The older I get, the more I realize that my mother was right after all. I am just like my Grandma Mooney.

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Grandma Mooney & the Case of the Vinegar Valentines

Valentine’s Day always reminds me of my Grandma Mooney (more specifically, she was my Great-Grandmother). That may seem odd to some people (to think of grandparents around a holiday meant for couples), but there’s a reason behind it.  She was actually quite a colorful character… and then some. And one of her favorite things to do centered round Valentine’s Day.

It’s not really observed much anymore, but back in the day people would give out what were called “vinegar valentines.” They were basically insult cards with a caricature drawing on the front and a small acidic poem on the back that tended to call people out as being either foolish, a spinster, a loser, etc. You get the idea. They were pretty unflattering for the recipient and not exactly the heartwarming valentines we give out now covered in hearts and roses. Grandma Mooney absolutely loved giving these out to so-called loved ones and friends.

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It was one of her favorite times of year because, while she may have been thinking these evil thoughts all year, now she was able to put those thoughts to paper. And let me tell you, she got serious pleasure out of poring over who would get what card. If memory serves they were sent out anonymously so the person receiving the snail mail insult couldn’t be sure who thought they were an idiot, but rest assured, someone out there in the world did. The ironic part is that Grandma Mooney would get super pissed if she ever got one. She sent them out by the bucketful but getting even one in return was blasphemous.

I wish I could’ve seen her face as she was picking out the cards and sending them out. It’s hard to picture without having seen it up close, but anytime Grandma Mooney was up to trouble, she’d laugh… not out loud… but sort of an internal laugh so that her massive bosom shook like jelly. Watching her go through her stash of valentines with an intensity more often seen in a tax auditor and the inevitable intervals of shaking as she came across just the perfect one for say… Georgie or Carlene… would’ve been a hoot. Although I’m just guessing that these two were among the lucky recipients.  Grandma Mooney always kept her list top-secret so no one could rat her out.

In truth, though, I almost wish more that I could’ve seen what she did when she opened up one that she had received. I’d be observing that from a very safe distance of course.  I mean, there’s just no sense in poking an already pissed off bear. Grandma Mooney would’ve made Sherlock Holmes proud though… because after receiving one of these heart to heart communiqués in the mail, she suddenly became a resolute and determined investigator, examining handwriting, postal stamps, and whatever else would give her a clue as to who sent it.  She’d wander around the house muttering names for a week as she narrowed down the list of suspects. And when she finally had that “eureka!” moment and was convinced she knew the perpetrator of this horrible crime, she immediately began planning the coming year’s list, editing it accordingly, and putting that person’s name in the top position. Ahh… it’s the simple joys that mean the most.

When I was young, my mother used to tell me that I was just like my Grandma Mooney. I’d take offense at that if I could only figure out how to argue the rationale. Admittedly, I can see the similarities — though not to the extremes of my enjoying sending anonymous insults. But I do share some of her ornery eccentricities. In some respects, it may seem like an awful comparison — but along with her cantankerous quirks, my grandmother had a heart of gold and took care of her family above all else. So I guess when all is said and done, I’m pretty happy to be compared to her.

 

Eternal Love

Everyone knows I’m a bit strange when it comes to love stories.  I’m drawn to the “odd” ones you find in horror movies or action flicks…yet I also feel a kinship to those told through tales like Pride & Prejudice and The Notebook.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to like every chick flick out there though…there aren’t too many chick flicks I do like actually.  For a while now I’ve been seriously crushing on Ava and Boyd from Justified and hoping their relationship survives the season finale. If you don’t watch the show, suffice it to say they’re not your average couple. They’re more along the lines of a criminally hardcore Bonnie and Clyde. As I said, I’m a bit off. That’s okay. I embrace my weirdness.

But back here in the real world, who doesn’t want eternal love? It does exist. I’ve seen it. My parents for one. They’ve been married just shy of forever and while they bicker, they still hold hands to cross the parking lot. I’ve also seen it with my grandparents who met later in life (it was a second marriage for my Grandmother whose first husband, my Mom’s father, died in the mines), but most definitely married for love. My Grandfather had his hands full with my Grandmother (she was a spitfire and then some) and he loved her all the more for it. I don’t think there’s anything he wouldn’t have done for her.

And then I came across this article today, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  I’m sure the newspaper planned it that way on purpose. A feel good story for Valentine’s.  But truly, it is indeed inspiring.  For here are the stories of individuals whose love is so strong that it withstands all odds – for even when their better half is lost within themselves so deeply that they cannot remember the shared love, the lives intertwined, or even their own names – the devotion never wavers. Alzheimer’s Disease is a horrendous illness.  It invades your mind; it steals your memories. But the men profiled in this editorial are not willing to let go of their wives to the likes of Alzheimer’s, because while their spouses may not remember, they do.  If that’s not eternal love, I don’t know what is.

Family Love

In the past few years my family has transitioned from something out of Full House to something more akin to Arrested Development. No, I’m not saying that we’re all in danger of going to jail for a slew of financial crimes (including light treason) and building houses in Iraq. What I mean, is that while we used to be all lovey-dovey nice to each other (at least where card-giving holidays like birthdays are concerned), somewhere along the way we changed and found out that using insults and sarcasm is a much more fun way to tell someone how much you cherish them. Only makes sense, right?

It’s become common practice for all of us to get each other the most mean-spirited (or sarcastic) cards we can get our hands on. And we have the best time shopping for these things! Standing in the aisle of the card store, grinning from ear to ear, oftentimes laughing out loud, and looking like an absolute fool as we pour over the selection combing for the perfect card.  It’s actually quite reminiscent of Grandma Mooney and the Case of the Vinegar Valentines, but without the malicious intent.

If the person is getting on in years, rest assured the cards they get will be all about how old they are. Prime example: Some of the grandkids gave their doting grandfather a Star Wars themed card. On the front it said “In a galaxy far, far away, a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long time ago…” Inside, “…you were born.” Simple but effective. Congratulations Grandpa, you’re old as dirt. And he LOVED it!

If age isn’t an easy target, don’t worry, we’ll find something to harp on…the choices are abundant once you really start looking through the card section. One loving daughter (I won’t name who) gave her mom a card that joked about how her breasts have a much closer relationship to the floor now than when she was younger. Hardy har har, right? Again, not exactly zingers from MENSA, but you get the point.

The really funny part is that it didn’t use to be this way. We used to play nice. We’d go the Hallmark route and buy cards with pictures of kittens or lovely scenes all over them and sweetly worded verses inside. Then this evolution happened and now it’s all out warfare in the stationary section. I don’t know what caused the change or who initiated the mean streak, but it’s been holding strong and has even been spreading to extended members of the family. It’s become disappointing to us when we receive a “nice” card…and it makes us rack our brain trying to figure out just what we did to annoy the giver that they felt the need to get us a “nice” card.  I know.  We’re weird.

No one is safe. Mothers, fathers, brother, sisters, aunts, uncles…all are fair game. And we’re not confined to just blood relatives either. Oh no no no. You come into this family and sure, we’ll let you have the nice heartfelt marriage. We’ll get you the gifts off your registry and we’ll tell you how happy we are to have you in our family (all true by the way).

But after a few years, when you’re good and hunkered down and we’re pretty certain you’re no longer a flight risk, we’ll take the kid gloves off and really let you into the family. After this proverbial “waiting period” you’ll know you’re truly part of the clan when on your birthday you get a card that implies you need to up your meds rather than one that gushes over your virtues (which I’m sure are very valid and gush worthy). A card that will hopefully make you laugh as much as we did when we picked it out.

Hurray, you’ve finally been accepted into the fold! That’s love right there. Because that’s how our family rolls.

 

family love

Grandma Mooney & the Case of the Vinegar Valentines

Valentine’s Day always reminds me of my Grandma Mooney (more specifically, she was my Great-Grandmother). That may seem odd to some people (to think of grandparents around a holiday meant for couples), but there’s a reason behind it.  She was actually quite a colorful character….and then some. And one of her favorite things to do centered round Valentine’s Day.

It’s not really observed much anymore, but back in the day people would give out what were called “vinegar valentines.” They were basically insult cards with a caricature drawing on the front and a small acidic poem on the back that tended to call people out as being either foolish, a spinster, a loser, etc. You get the idea. They were pretty unflattering for the recipient and not exactly the heartwarming valentines we give out now covered in hearts and roses. Grandma Mooney absolutely loved giving these out to so called loved ones and friends.

Image

It was one of her favorite times of year because, while she may have been thinking these evil thoughts all year, now she was able to put those thoughts to paper. And let me tell you, she got serious pleasure out of poring over who would get what card. If memory serves they were sent out anonymously so the person receiving the snail mail insult couldn’t be sure who thought they were an idiot, but rest assured, someone out there in the world did. The ironic part is that Grandma Mooney would get super pissed if she ever got one. She sent them out by the bucketful but getting even one in return was blasphemous.

I wish I could’ve seen her face as she was picking out the cards and sending them out. It’s hard to picture without having seen it up close, but anytime Grandma Mooney was up to trouble, she’d laugh…not out loud…but sort of an internal laugh so that her massive bosom shook like jelly. Watching her go through her stash of valentines with an intensity more often seen in a tax auditor and the inevitable intervals of shaking as she came across just the perfect one for say…Georgie or Carlene…would’ve been a hoot. Although I’m just guessing that these two were among the lucky recipients.  Grandma Mooney always kept her list top secret so no one could rat her out.

In truth, though, I almost wish more that I could’ve seen what she did when she opened up one that she had received. I’d be observing that from a very safe distance of course.  I mean, there’s just no sense in poking an already pissed off bear. Grandma Mooney would’ve made Sherlock Holmes proud though…because after receiving one of these heart to heart communiqués in the mail, she suddenly became a resolute and determined investigator, examining handwriting, postal stamps, and whatever else would give her a clue as to who sent it.  She’d wander around the house muttering names for a week as she narrowed down the list of suspects. And when she finally had that “eureka!” moment and was convinced she knew the perpetrator of this horrible crime, she immediately began planning the coming year’s list, editing it accordingly, and putting that person’s name in the top position. Ahh…it’s the simple joys that mean the most.

When I was young, my mother used to tell me that I was just like my Grandma Mooney. I’d take offense at that if I could only figure out how to argue the rationale. Admittedly, I can see the similarities — though not to the extremes of my enjoying sending anonymous insults. But I do share some of her ornery eccentricities. In some respects, it may seem like an awful comparison — but along with her cantankerous quirks, my grandmother had a heart of gold and took care of her family above all else. So I guess when all is said and done, I’m pretty happy to be compared to her.

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