Over the years of living with Gram, she told me all sorts of stories about her family. There were stories about her father and his family, and some even went back to the time when her father's family lived in Ireland. There were stories about her children, both when they were young and as adults. And there were stories about her husband, Hiram. She met him when she was sixteen years old and he was working as a projectionist in a movie theater in downtown Denver. Less than four months after her seventeenth birthday they ran off and got married. They were devoted to one another, and were married for thirty-eight years, when Gram found herself a widow at the age of fifty-five. She was a widow for thirty-five years, and I don't think she ever gave another man more than a glance, because she always loved her husband.
Gram and Hiram had to deal with his heart disease for a number of years. She often told me that it was difficult for him to stick to the dietary restrictions his doctors ordered. As with anyone who has blood pressure or coronary problems, his doctors wanted him to restrict his sodium intake, along with other things like fat. Gram often said that Hiram like his food "white with salt and black with pepper." I find it interesting, in these days when doctors advise a glass of wine daily for one's health, that his doctors wanted him to have a small tot of whiskey every day. She said that when they traveled they needed to carry a letter from the doctors so that they wouldn't get in trouble for carrying whiskey across any state lines. I imagine that may have been a problem if they traveled through any "dry" states.
Gram told me that at this time they had quite an interesting dog; I believe her name was Cindy. This dog was a little bit like The Tramp from the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp. No, she wasn't a stray, or unlicensed. She was a very social dog, and liked to go on her little meanderings on a daily basis. She would wander off by herself, visiting various people and businesses. There was a Mexican restaurant that was her final stop on these daily excursions, and apparently they liked Cindy a lot. Every time that she went by the restaurant, someone would give her a taco wrapped in paper. She would bring it home, lay down on the living room floor, and unwrap and eat her taco.
One day Cindy came home, carrying her taco, just as Hiram was telling Gram how hard it was for him not to eat the things he liked. He missed all of the flavors that he used to enjoy but couldn't any more because of his healthier diet. Gram said that Cindy came into the living room and looked at Hiram. She walked over to him and laid her wrapped taco on his feet. She somehow knew that he really wanted a treat, and she gladly game him her favorite snack. I am fairly certain that he didn't eat the taco, but I still think it's one of the sweetest stories of kindness from a pet that I've ever heard.
Gram also told me of a harrowing experience she had once when Hiram had a heart attack. It was a warm day, and Hiram had come home from work and was leaning against the kitchen door frame while Gram was cooking dinner. Suddenly he slid down to the floor with no warning. She knew it had to be something to do with his heart. In those days, nobody knew about CPR like they do these days, so she didn't know of anything to do for him other than call an ambulance. She told me that she never knew why, but in her fear and distress, she pulled back her arm, made a fist, and hit him hard on the chest. She had unwittingly given him a bit of CPR, helping him until the ambulance arrived.
Gram got into the ambulance to ride to the hospital with her husband and the ambulance crew. I am pretty sure the hospital wasn't terribly far away, but unfortunately it was the height of rush hour. She told me that the ambulance was soon caught in a sea of traffic. Even though they had the siren blaring, all of the lanes were jam-packed with traffic. There were no gaps in the traffic for any of the cars to move out of the way. How could they possibly get Hiram to the hospital in time? Gram told me that the ambulance driver said, "Dear God in Heaven! Please open up a lane for me so that we can save this man's life!" Gram watched from the back of the ambulance as a single lane suddenly cleared in front of them. The ambulance crew was able to get Hiram to the hospital, where the doctors worked aggressively and saved her husband's life.
Listening to these stories was captivating. I knew from the look on her face and the sound of her voice that she loved her husband deeply. And I know now how fortunate I was that she shared these lovely stories with me. It's strange that I heard more about Gram's family than my own. And that I, of all people, knew more about some things in her life than her own grand-kids. I can only hope that my occasional stories can bring her experiences to life for them. And I hope they bring some enjoyment to those of you who can only know this sassy little lady from the stories in my blog!