March 5th, 2010
This is the calm before the storm. The good kind of storm. I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina sitting in my cousin Elaine’s basement waiting for 35 relatives to trickle in for the next 24 hours to celebrate Grandma Harriet’s 90th birthday. Big plans? We’re gonna just hang out. We had a family reunion last year and we know that The Kabat Klan is very capable of just entertaining ourselves. We don’t need weddings, Bar Mitzvahs or mechanical bulls. We’re equipped with a lotta colorful characters. A lotta food. A lotta laughs. Always. The plan is to have a celebratory “roast” for our family’s matriarch tomorrow night that I am “Mc’ing.:
Having arrived on the early end of the weekend, I was fortunate to have the time to sit with grandma and my cousin Elaine’s two angelic children (Lila is almost four and Joanna is seven) for an interview. As you know, I like to do it Barbara Walters style in fuzzy lighting with an oversize plant hitting my face. I inquire within. Asking the pressing questions. That you want to know.
PART 1 – Interview with Grandma Harriet
Jax - You had an accident a few years ago that resulted with a “dead pinkie”…tell us about that day?
Grandma Harriet – That’s true. I was having a mah Jong game and my ladies were coming for lunch. I was making a very lovely lunch of stuffed tomatoes with tuna salad. And then I was making iced tea… the pitcher dropped, broke and cut my finger. I wrapped it in a sanitary napkin and continued to fix my lunch for my ladies. They suggested that I call the doctor. But first I played Ma Jong because there was money involved. I left for the hospital in the middle of the game. My pinkie needed surgery and it’s never been the same since.
Jax - Have you ever repeated any stories?
Grandma Harriet – Oh noooooo…
Jax- Have you ever repeated any stories?
Grandma Harriet – I said oh nooo…
Jax- -When did you know that you were in love with grandpa?
Grandma Harriet: The moment I met him. He worked at a firm in Patterson, NJ which is where I grew up. He knew the same people that I knew. And we were married seven months later.
Jax: Who is your favorite child /grandchild /great grandchild?
Grandma Harriet: I have no favorite.
Jax - You tell long stories. Do you feel it’s important to treat it like an endurance sport and hydrate in between?
Grandma Harriet – (laughing) I just like to talk.
Jax - Have you ever repeated stories?
Grandma Harriet - Never. Just ask anyone
Jax– If anything happens in life that is hard..how do you deal with it?
Grandma Harriet–Deal with it
Jax – Any regrets in your life? (My dad is sitting next to her and says, “Ask me?”) I ask him and he says “Yes!”
Grandma Harriet – None. No regrets.
Jax- You ran bingo for years at your independent living. What was the biggest scandal?
Grandma Harriet – People were talking too loud at the wrong times so I yelled, “Be quiet!”
Jax– Any word of advice for your family?
Grandma Harriet– Just be happy with each other. Nothing makes me happier than the fact that you are all very close. I want it to stay that way. Or else you’ll hear from me. I’m the luckiest lady at this point in anyone’s life. I have more than anyone. I have all my children, grandchildren and great children. Everyone around me is very special. Each and every one has their little way. And they make me feel special.
PART 2 – Interview with Lila and Joanna about grandma (otherwise known as Bubby in great grandchildren circles.)
Jax - What do you want to tell Bubby?
Joanna – I’ve lost seven teeth now
Lila - I love her
Jax - Do you like cuddling with Bubby in her bed?
Lila & Joanna - Yes. Because she’s cuddly.
Jax – What’s your favorite gift from Bubby?
Joanna – The money. For my first tooth
Lila –A baby the doll
Jax - What’s the doll’s name?
Lila - Baby Harriet
Jax – What do you like best about Bubby?
Lila – She is funny
Joanna – She is very funny and makes me laugh a lot. When I think of Bubby I think of her kindness.