When someone mentions their grandmother, most people conjure up a similar image. And it’s not a velour-sweats-wearing, sporty-car-driving, Bachelor-watching, spunky lady who barely looks like a grandma, let alone a great grandma of four (soon-to-be five). Yep, my grandma—or Nana, as I call her—is different. She’s, well, cool.
I’ve known this since I was a kid. Every visit with her involved adventure. From a young age I would hop on a plane in Northern California to go spend a weekend in Southern California with her and my grandpa (who left us with wonderful memories when he passed away my senior year of college). My first visit we walked out of the video rental store with two selections: Heidi and Thriller. And I loved both. In a way, the strange combination represented Nana—she’s very well mannered and respectable (just ask the board at any LA museum), but has a wonderfully edgy side that keeps people on their toes.
Through the years, she, her sister and their friends taught me how to body surf at the Beach Club in Santa Monica. And also how to pocket (or purse) Red Robin menus. Nana not only indulged my celeb stalking around her neighborhoods—Tina Turner in the early 80s and Kirk Cameron in the late 80s—she took my friend and me on her own authentic Hollywood Star tour and snapped pictures of us in front of every Rodeo Drive landmark that was featured in Pretty Woman. (Not to mention the penthouse suite at the Beverly Wilshire where my grandfather’s uncle, a famous movie star, once lived.)
When I ended up going to college in LA, Nana’s coolness was confirmed (as if that was necessary) by each friend of mine she met. Any time she would come to take me to lunch or attend my sorority events, people would gush about how lucky I was. And I couldn’t help but agree.
After college, we hit the streets of Paris together, along with my equally fun mom. I can’t imagine falling in love with that city or laughing that much with anyone else. My poor French got us fries for breakfast instead of fruit, lost instead of found and a lot of eye rolls. But we saw every lovely site imaginable during the days—Nana’s knowledge of history is unparalleled—and spent our evenings rocking out in Sephora (which hadn’t made its way to every mall in the US at that point) growing our souvenir collection of black and white candies and giggles.
At our wedding, Nana showed her spunk, not only on the dance floor (thanks to years of teaching Cotillion, and some impressive freestyle moves too!), but by saying, “Mmm, mmm, deeeelicious!” during the big kiss. When my boys were itty bitty babies, she was down on the floor tickling them, and out in the waters of Maui swimming with them. Now that they’re growing up, she’s teaching them about the world from her life experiences. After an entertaining chat with Big about the animals in Africa, she put together a photo album for him of pictures she and my grandfather took on safari. Big loves it, not only for the animals, but because GG (short for great grandma) made it just for him. No doubt my baby girl will discover her own reasons for falling head over heals for GG as she grows up too.
It’s true, my grandma isn’t your ordinary grandmother. She’s extraordinary. And if you ask me, that makes me one of the luckiest girls in the world.
This post was inspired by the fun novel 29 by Adena Halpern, which I received a free copy of as a member of From Left To Write, a blogger’s book club. While the lighthearted, sweet story is about a 75-year-old grandmother who makes a wish to be 29 again, the part I loved was the grandmother/granddaughter relationship. She was a cool grandma too, and I couldn’t help but reflect on how much fun I’ve had with my Nana through the years.