Monday Mayhem – The High Life

Happy Labo(u)r Day, you working stiffs (I added the U for the Canadians)! I have spent most of my long weekend not laboring, and I have to tell you, I’m pretty good at it.

Fodder and I ran away to Hot Springs for a night. This is the closest you will ever see me come to touching an actual bird. As always, the can Miller High Life is a homage to my grandmother, for whom I am named.

I’ve been thinking about my grandma a lot this weekend. She’s been gone since I was in college, but occasionally, flashes of memory pop up. This weekend, I found myself thinking about her hands.

My grandparents were already in their seventies when I was born, so in my mind, Grandma’s hands were already a map of blue veins under paper-thin skin. Her knuckles were swollen with arthritis, and she always wore a dark blue star sapphire ring that spun on her pinkie finger.

When you walked into their living room, there was a good chance you’d find Lawrence Welk on the TV, a can of Miller High Life (the champagne of beers) on the side table, and an embroidery hoop on her lap.

This was Margaret Carbery, in her natural habitat.

My grandmother had both cataracts and glaucoma. The bit in Sixteen Candles where Molly Ringwald’s character complains about being felt up by her grandmother?

Yeah…All the time. Our conversations usually started like this:

“Margaret Mary? Is that you?” *grope-grope-grope* “Well, it’s not Jimmy, Grandma.”

By the end of her life, she had little vision left, but more often then not, you would still find her sitting in her chair under the light with the tiffany-esque shade, embroidering pillowcases. She gave them to people as gifts. In our house, they weren’t kept as heirlooms. We used them every day. I don’t think I rested my head on a pillow that wasn’t enrobed in a case hand-stiched by my grandmother until I was in my twenties. I have a couple of sets stashed away:


I don’t have many pictures of my grandmother. Even fewer have been scanned into the computer, but she is still fresh in my mind. If you need a visual, here’s a photo of her (the lady in white with the big old star sapphire on her pinkie) dancing a hula with Don Ho at the Polynesian Palace:

That’s what we Margarets do. We live the high life.

Rest well today, my friends, for tomorrow we are back to laboring!

3 Replies to “Monday Mayhem – The High Life”

  1. Love memories of your grandmother. The things I remember about my grandmother is standing in front of the stove cooking sauce, working out in the garden, and watching her “stories” (soaps) on tv. Oh, and there was that time she chased me around the orange tree, (I must have sassed her), and she couldn’t catch me. She did the next best thing. She flung the broom at me with (as Lane would say, amazing accuracy). Enjoy your day of Non-Labor.

  2. She sounds absolutely amazing. And wow, that pic of her…could be your mother. I’m awfully lucky to still have both my grandmothers in my life. I never met either of my great-grandmothers, but I’ve always been especially curious about my great-grandma Evelyn. Mom used to tell me stories about her. They were very close. Evelyn had terrible rheumatoid arthritis, but she never complained about it. She worked hard, raised eight babies on a farm, and was grateful for every little blessing in her life. I’m so proud to be named after her, too. 🙂

  3. A couple of years ago I looked at my hands and thought “Oh my goodness, those are my grandmother’s hands!” Funny how that happens. We shared a farmhouse with my dad’s parents when I was little, so I have lots of memories of my paternal grandmother. She broke her hip the winter before I was born and spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. When I see pictures of her standing or in the midst of some activity I can’t believe it’s her. Apparently her health problems changed her personality, turning her bitter and unhappy, but I never experienced that. She kept a ‘junk box’ for me and every afternoon I’d go downstairs and spend a delightful hour playing with her, building things with tinker toys and sorting through her button box. When she made chocolate frosting I always got to lick the bowl. I thought she was the best!

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