Jonathan Remembers his Grandmother

Jan 2005


Before my mother passed on she had many wonderful experiences with all of my children. I often wondered how much impact these experiences my have on their lives, perhaps because I wonder how my experiences with grandchildren will impact their lives.

I asked Jon if there was any one special thing he remembers about his grandmother. He responded that there was, but he wasn' t sure I would like it. "Oh My God," I thought, "What possibly could such a thing be?"

While all of my children had wonderful experiences with their grandmother, Jonathan had many unique experiences that I was sure he would relate. She visited us on several occasions in California and she hung out with Jon quite a bit. He showed her a lot of respect, and, I think he, judging by his actions, truly loved her. He spent three intense weeks with her and me in Europe, where she acted as his tutor to satisfy his absence from school. On one of her visits I allowed him to choose the one place in the LA area that he would like to show her. To everyone's surprise, he selected the La Brea tar pits and museum, and she loved it as much as he did. With all of this, I was taken by surprise when he related his most vivid memory.

Mother was a very busy person. She would always find things to do, even if it was just "busywork". Just sitting and doing nothing would have made her feel guilty. She wanted to be a doer and to live life in every possible way. On one of her visits, during a hot sunny California day when she and Jon were at home together, she occupied herself by walking around the house swatting flies.

Now, unlike Tennessee, where she lived most of her life, Orange county California doesn't have that many flies, so fly swatting is more of a sport than a serious job. You rarely see more that one or two flies, even on a bad day. Consequently, the more industrious Californians have come up with any number of fly swatting tools that require a certain amount of skill, which turns fly swatting into something that more resembles hunting small game. Some of these shoot the flyswatter at the fly, some shoot a rubber band at the fly (that really takes a marksman) and others require the hunter to trap the fly, sometimes dead, sometimes alive.

I have owned or at least tried most of these weapons at one time or another. At the time I happened to own what might be described as a double flop-together fly swatter. Two swatting heads were mounted in such way that one had to catch the fly in between the two heads and pull a trigger, which then would flap the two swatters together with a loud pop, smashing the poor fly between the two. (Like the old saying, "Between a rock and a hard place.") After the kill, the hunter would then recock the device and start all over. It wasn't all that easy to master; this operation took a lot more skill than just swatting, and it gave the fly good odds of escaping.

He observed her chasing this rather illusive fly from one room to another flopping the swatter, recocking, searching, and flopping again. Finally after chasing the poor fly through the entire house she finally made the kill. (She most likely just tired the poor bastard out so that he could no longer fly fast out of the trap). She looked at the smashed fly, smiled victoriously, and gave the Trolinger salute, which is an old family secret known only to Trolingers.

This is the one experience that stands out most vividly in Jonathan's memory of his grandmother. Now I would guess that my father would get a bigger kick out of this story than she would.




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