Giving ‘Em the Business

I always made it a point to catch up with my Gram Fuller at least once a week. Even in college, as soon as I set up my own long distance plan and connected it to my first credit card, it was so I could call and catch up with her – mainly to see what shenanigans she and her posse of little old ladies were getting into. They did league bowling and lunches out on the town well into their 80’s, and I’d have absolutely loved to be a fly on the wall with them (yes, these were the days before cell phones and unlimited talk/text/data and long distance wasn’t included in any minutes plan – stay with me here).

She might have a golden yarn to relay, like the time they got pulled over for speeding – can you imagine the officer’s surprise to walk up on a cackling car full of sassy senior citizens? He let them off with a warning, and I’m sure he walked back to his car shaking his head, secretly hoping to be like them someday. I can just picture them “giving him the business,” as she called it… and actually that could mean anything from playful teasing to a serious dressing down, depending on the situation. Thankfully, we got way more of the teasing and playfulness – as is usually the case with grandmothers, right?

By the time I was calling from college, the business was far more tame, more likely to be of the pie baking variety, or volunteering at the church’s fundraiser. They might be manning the purple cow booth at the local grape jamboree or heading to their weekly lunch at Honey Bee’s.

Don’t get me wrong – they weathered serious storms – world wars, the Great Depression, family tragedies, the grind of working years, raising children, retirement, aging and losing their spouses. Throughout it all, they had each other – their own little troupe of Golden Girls. And they sure had fun giving each other and their families “the business.” I so admired her combination of grace and determination as she aged – it can’t have been easy, but she continued giving us the business, remarking often how her own mother would say that getting old isn’t for sissies. Even as she lay in the hospital after a devastating stroke, the twinkle was there, and she tried to manage a little chuckle as my dad and my sister came to visit and were up to our usual at her bedside – giving each other the business. That’s kind of what we do – laughter is good for what ails us. The not taking ourselves too seriously helps us cope, even when the outlook is bleak.

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Our Golden Girl at Niagra Falls, circa 1993

My husband Jimmy would say I might have paid attention a little too well, as he gets “the business” often. Like, a lot. Most of it is in the playful teasing category, and I hope I don’t cross the line into hurtful jabs without meaning to. We have plenty enough serious in our lives – just like you probably do. So we treasure the moments when one of us says something silly or does something goofy, or even quotes one of our favorite movies, opening the door for a little “business.”

Movie one-liners are one of our favorite ways to communicate.  We’ve had entire conversations that were nothing but funny movie lines.

Jimmy: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Me: “I carried a watermelon.”

Jimmy: “He wouldn’t know a good idea if it hit him in the Pechanga.”

And so on. And on. And on. Bonus points are awarded if we can both switch movies and stay on track. Not that the bonus points mean anything beyond that we’re proud of the volley of zingers, challenging each other to dig deep, not wanting to be the one who has to throw in the towel.

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Having the time of our life at the Dirty Dancing live show in Memphis

So that’s it for now. I’m thankful for “the business.” I don’t have a pretty bow to put on my thoughts here, no major epiphany or great advice to share – other than reminding myself it’s okay to take a break for funny in the midst of whatever I’m working through. You have the same occasional pass too. I’m grateful for those moments where you let go of the stress and just have some fun. I really am. And now I’m moving on.

Me: “I’m going to hop out of the car here and pick up some flowers.”

Jimmy (catching the switch from Dirty Dancing to The American President): “No, sir. No hopping.”

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