My father's mother was named May, dad was Harry S. His brother's name is Drew. When we went there to visit, it was lamb with mint jelly and a cat that was called Baby and who always disappeared as soon as we stepped in the front door. This is exactly what my cat does now when most people walk in. Harry S. probably had several ailments toward the end of his life, but I remember he broke a bone in his leg or his hip by basically stepping off the curb onto the street. Their car was what I am going to call a Ford Granada, with two giant doors. May never had a driver license in her entire life. They had powdered Pepsodent in a metal tube/can in the bathroom. Their phone was Bakelite with a metal dial and weighed enough to give someone a concussion if used just right.
John H. and Elizabeth were my mom's parents. They lived in a pre-Revolutionary War house in Pennsylvania that began as the front house and the disconnected back portion. They paid on the order of three thousand dollars for it and had a mortgage burning party when it became theirs. As well as being a draftsman for an oil company, John was a furniture maker and I'm sure a qualified carpenter in his own right and connected the two parts of the house together. He is kind of the rock star of the family. Elizabeth lived to be one hundred and one and holds the record for family longevity. At her funeral a random dog showed up at the outdoor ceremony and walked around for a minute or two before taking off. She was always a dog lover, her urn of ashes and departing gifts also contained the ashes of my aunt and cousin's dog Arrow, who had preceded her into the realm of the unknown some twenty years prior. Among my favorite photographs is one of a Great Dane on its hind legs towering over my grandfather, each facing one another as if dancing. Elizabeth was a cool old lady who took zero shit.
Photos of them at the Jersey shore in the 20s and 30s with friends and family make me want to be somewhere else or some time else in a very tangible way. I have not mentioned as much about Harry and May, but we were not as close with that side of the family. Some bad blood between my father and uncle that just never got set right. Harry was quiet as my father was and as I often see in myself. May was little and smelled just like a grandmother is supposed to smell, a little like medicine and food and makeup but only in a good way.
We found stashed beer in the creek across the road at age 7 and an old car in the woods with 70s pornography in it. I got a poison oak infection once that covered my entire right leg and bought me a trip to the hospital. As we drove away from every trip to see them, John H. would place his hands on his head and flex his naked biceps alternately right and left as we cheered with delight.