This is my grandmother. She’s 85 (turning 86 in less than a month) and she’s an epic bad-ass who survived fleeing her homeland of Estonia by creating an acting troupe and hitching a lift across Europe until she found American soldiers. When the Americans came into town, everyone else hid because they were scared, but she put on her best (and only) frock and went out to wave hello. They gave her chocolate and new stockings.
She is the only person in my immediate family who has been to prison. One night, in Germany, her and her best girl-friend stayed out too late and got tipsy, breaking curfew, but only had to spend one night in jail because the police chief recognized her from a stage production of ‘Gaslight’. (She does not admit to this story.)
She is a troublemaker. Once, she went to the laundromat and accidentally tipped a whole box of detergent into an open machine and as the suds rose up and out, spilling over, she calmly picked up her clothing and walked out. (She does not admit to this story either, but will own up to, perhaps, paying for damages for something that she never did.)
She has Alzheimer’s and dementia. She knows who she is and where she is, but not when it is. There are days when the war is still going on.
Today, she had a stroke. She’s fine, doing well, and all that good stuff, but as we were in the emergency room, the doctor came up to her and asked what she had for breakfast. Calm as can be, she deadpanned: “Two bottles of whisky and a fireman.”