The Grandness of Grandparents

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yesterday, during my son’s nap, I got some time to watch one of my favorite shows: CBS Sunday Morning. I’ve watched (and more recently DVR’d) the show for years. There’s so much to like and learn. It sets my Sundays up just right.

On the show, there was a quick segment on David Dortort, the creator of the show Bonanza who died last week at the age of 93. I couldn’t help but smile as they showed clips of the thrice-widowed Ben Cartwright (played by Lorne Greene) and his sons Adam, Hoss and Little Joe.

The reason for the grin—and why I know so much about the “most watched TV show in the country” during the mid-60s, when it originally aired—is because of Pearl Barker, my maternal grandmother.

The Cartwright boys on the Ponderosa. Can't you just hear that theme song now?

Bonanza was one of three syndicated shows my grandmother absolutely adored and rarely missed. The other two were Adam-12 and Solid Gold—but only the seasons hosted by Dionne Warwick. Ma said she wasn’t “too fond” of the other, newer hosts. (And don’t dare say an unkind word about Miss Dionne, either. That was Ma’s girl!)

It was all quite fitting, watching scenes of Bonanza on what was National Grandparents Day. It took me back to those times, those warm and wonderful times when Ma lived with us in Montreal and we watched her shows together.

Ma was the only grandparent I knew, as the others had passed away long before I could shape memories of them. She was a good grandmother, loving, kind, sweet, and could cook you the most delicious thing you didn’t even know you’d like until you were licking the fork.

She died in 1998 after a long illness that saw her memory and mind fail her. It was sad and we missed her—the real Ma, who had left us years before her body did. We still miss her. But I’ll always have these fine details in my pocket: the television shows she loved, the meals she cooked, her modest but groovy calypso two-step, even the softness of her curly hair that she let me comb before we said goodnight.

And now, when I look at my son, fortunate to have both sets of grandparents—all full of glee and pride—in his young life, enjoying his firsts and witnessing his fun … here comes that smile again. I’m beaming, happy knowing  that he will have his own stories of moments shared with Grandma and Granddad and Gammy and Grandpa.

  • 1
    Yvette says:

    I’m sitting here reading this and smiling too, the memories!

  • 2
    Nailah says:

    Aww this makes me a little sad since I did not get a chance to really know any of my grandparents as well as I would have liked. I can only hope that my kids will have fond memories of their grandparents when they grow up.

  • 3
    maureen says:

    This makes me shed a few tears, Pearl was my mum, she was a very sweet and and warm lady who loved her kids and grands so much.
    We miss you Ma.

  • 4
    tony says:

    Ma Barker was a loving Grandma that loved her kids and their spouses very much. She was a really good cook, and this article makes me very sad when i think about her.
    Ma we love you and miss you.

    • 4.1
      Ms. Mack says:

      Aww. Thanks for the loving comments, family. It’s easy to get sad thinking about how much Ma is missed, how much we loved her. But all of the wonderful memories…they keep her fresh in our hearts.