About that time my great-grandma predicted the weather with space travel

August 9, 2007 at 3:01 am | Posted in childhood, family, mad mad world, space, weather | 3 Comments

My great-grandmother, Rosie, was a pretty awesome person. She was Irish, ornery, and hilarious. She defied her parents as a teenager by marrying a man she loved who had the audacity to be Catholic when she was Protestant. In Ireland, especially back then, this was pretty much like signing your parental emancipation papers, and  they wanted nothing to do with her after her elopement. Although I’m sure this bothered her, she never admitted it.  My great-grandfather was a pretty cool dude himself. He had a set of three stars tattooed on his forearm decades before all the emo kids started doing it.  He wore suspenders and loosely knotted ties until the day he died. He got into a lot of street brawls- mostly over insults to his Irishness, which ran as thick in his veins as his daily trip to the bar for his port. Sounds like someone I would defy my parents to marry! Anyway, Rosie and her husband lived together as man and wife for nearly sixty years, raised three children and a grandchild, and brought them all to the United States where they lived for many years on the second floor in a bright red tenement building in Jersey City.

Rosie wasn’t what you would imagine the typical great-grandma to be. She didn’t knit, she didn’t play bridge, she didn’t get her hair done once a week. Instead, she owned a gigantic brightly colored parrot that she taught to say dirty words. She wore only house-dresses, never with a bra but sometimes with sweaters if it was cold outside, and horn rimmed black glasses with faux diamond studs.  She absolutely refused to get false teeth. Nonetheless she would eat things like steak and corn on the cob, completely toothless the whole time, and then usually ask for seconds. She said things like “It’s hot as hell in this shithole!” and “Let’s go down to the corner shop and get a La Beetz.” By La Beetz, she meant a pizza. She had her own vernacular, full of words that I never got the hang of, spotted with curses and full of fantastic words of wisdom.

One idea that Rosie was dead set on was her theory that space travel affected the weather. She had a third grade education, and that education was what rural southern Ireland had to offer in the early 1900s, so her schooling wasn’t much. Still, she was a bright woman. She was very inquisitive and remembered every detail she ever heard. After man landed on the moon in the 1960s, she became convinced that the weather changed as a result. According to her it was hotter outside and rained more. Once, when my grandparents had to cut a trip to Mexico short due to Hurricane Anita Rosie only smiled knowingly and said she figured something like that was coming because the space shuttle Enterprise had been poking around in space.

This morning, a tornado touched down in Brooklyn and the shuttle Endeavour blasted off. I know, I know. I’ve read the articles. The tornado swept through New York twelve hours before the shuttle even took off, but it still made me smile. It made me think of Rosie, somewhere out there, smiling and saying “I told you so! Now someone make me a Pink Squirrel! Heavy on the squirrel this time!”



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  1. LOVE the new look! GORGEOUS! (though you know I was quite partial to your sandy feet!) Old people are so the best and your great-grandma sounds like a hoot. Hope you have a great weekend!

  2. […] woman who I sometimes see hanging out near you.” Now I was spooked. Rose is the name of my fabulous great-grandmother who is sadly no longer with us. For most of my life, I’ve felt that Rose was indeed still […]

  3. […] woman who I sometimes see hanging out near you.” Now I was spooked. Rose is the name of my fabulous great-grandmother who is sadly no longer with us. For most of my life, I’ve felt that Rose was indeed still […]

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