Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Frog in the Pool - And Other Ways to Love Your Grandmother

Earlier this week I told a funny story about my grandmother and a squirrel.  While I can't really top that story for its hilarity, I thought I would give you another grandparent story.  This one is about the way we love. 

I have many grandparents, at one time I had 11 living grandparents, although I am down to 6 at the moment.  Most of my life I had 5.  One of my grandmothers is a gem.  One of her most charming aspects is her childlike faith in people and their honesty.  I have to admit we used that to our advantage more than once.

My grandfather is a practical joker and the stunts he has pulled over the years could fill volumes.  If you forget the simple pranks like saran wrapping the toilet, short sheeting the bed and other summer camp type pranks you could still go on for hours.

One time he convinced my grandmother to wait home all day for the sidewalk inspector.  He even left her with money to bribe the inspector if he found a problem with their sidewalk...the one in the backyard.  She spent all day worried about bribing a public official and had worked herself into a quite a mess by the time he got home from work to tell her it was a joke.

I promise the list of pranks was long, and most of them were directed at her.

When I was a teenager my grandparents moved into a house in Arizona with a pool.  My grandfather and I went to the store to find things like floating mats, umbrellas and other pool items.  When we passed the garden department we saw a giant porcelain frog.  I looked at him, he looked at me, and we knew our next prank was in play...and it was going to be a good one.

We smuggled the frog into the back yard and slipped it down to the bottom of the pool.  We placed it where it could be seen by anyone who passed by.  We got out, dried off and went about our day.  By that evening no one had seen the frog and we had forgotten all about it.

Later that night my grandmother was standing in the kitchen doing the dishes when we heard a shriek and a gasp.  We ran to the kitchen to make sure she was all right. (Of course we had forgotten about the frog.) There she stood, clutching her chest and pointing out the window.  We took one look and collapsed laughing.  The frog, which was a good 24 inches long to begin with looked about 5 feet wide when he was at the bottom of the pool.  She was sure there was some sort of Arizona desert monster in her pool.  We couldn't convince her otherwise until we got back in the pool, dove to the bottom and pulled it up for everyone to see.

If I had been my grandmother I would have been angry.  In fact I would have been very angry the whole family had been laughing at my expense.  I think the frog would have met an early demise.  Instead she laughed and laughed.  The frog sat by the side of the pool as a yard ornament for the rest of the time they lived there.

Now I said this blog was about the way we love.  You may be wondering how torturing a poor woman was demonstrating love.  Well, it probably wasn't.  The demonstration came from my grandmother.  She always giggled and laughed it off.  She might shake her finger and give you "the eye" but she always laughed.  She loved us even when we tortured her.  She loved the fact we bonded over practical jokes.  She even retells the stories now.

So how do we take my grandmother's example and use it?  How do we love those who torment us?  That is an amazing question. I wish I knew her secret.  Part of it is her ability to see the good in others, part of it is her willingness to remember we love her, pool frog and all.

I hope we remember those around us love us, even when their actions, intentional or not, seem to hurt us.  We can make the choice to laugh or the choice to be hurt.  My grandmother laughed, she forgave us, and we moved on.  Now don't get me wrong, she could get mad when it was needed, but she never stayed that way forever.

When choosing to love others we are choosing to love all their craziness as well.  As hard as that may be it is better than not loving at all.  (I sound so philosophical here.)

The next time someone drops a practical joke in your lap, or blurts out an insensitive comment or finds a way make your day difficult, remember to smile, brush it off and walk away.  It isn't really important in the long run, but more importantly, if you laugh now it will be an amazing story down the road...just ask the frog.

Editor's Note:  After polling multiple family members there is a possibility the sidewalk inspector prank was really a light switch inspector prank.  There is also questions as to if there was an intended bribe.  There is the possibility both pranks were pulled.  As I said, he was good.

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