What’s in a name… Druscilla? For Real?

My friend Gina recently posted something along these lines on her facebook page: “I just want an older lady who will give me millions of compliments, cook me fabulous healthy meals, and clean my house. –Feeling like I want a grandma. “

This does sound quite lovely. However, it brought me to thoughts of my own grandmother, who would have done absolutely none of those things… unless she was being held at gunpoint by Martha Stewart.  

My maternal grandparents both died before I was 10, which is sad because they were definitely the more normal of the grandparents. My grandma Sally would have loved doing my blond hair like she wore it in the fifties (she was the only other blond in my family) and made me cookies. And despite that I didn’t know him long, I do remember my grandfather giving me bear hugs and snuggling with me while we watched the sound of music.

My paternal grandfather died before I was born, so that left me with only one grandparent to really get to know: my maternal grandmother. Here is a brief bio:

Maiden Name: Druscilla Eileen Roach (that shit is for real). Not much improved when she married my grandfather to become Druscilla Eileen Roach Bernard.

Nickname: Dru

Occupation: Socks and Sandal wearing ex-Californian and retired secretary.

Height: 5’ on a good day.

Weight: 85 pounds… maybe.

Vehicles: 1969  red Jaguar, which was purchased with cash most likely hidden underneath a mattress for 30 years. Once in Colorado, Subaru legacy was purchased.

Drink of choice: Greyhound

When I was about nine years old, Grandma Dru moved to Colorado from California so that she could be closer to my father/her son in her older age. Although, I think she would have much rather stayed in her ancient ranch style home in L.A. that smelled so permanently of dog that even the entire world’s stock of febreeze could not solve it. But she made a fortune off her house, which was promptly demolished and a small mansion was built upon the desirable Arcadia site during the reurbanization of LA in the early 90’s. Hopefully they were able to get the dog smell out of the land too.

I only have one or two early memories of Grandma Dru (I don’t think I even knew her full name until I was in high school… I once told someone her real name while she was in another room and when she found out she grabbed me by the wrist and told me she would never speak to me again if I ever told someone her real name) in California. And each person could have a different account of a single person… but there are some pretty interesting things that made my grandma unique.

Like most old people, she had the most ridiculous eating/sleeping schedule. She woke promptly at 4:00 a.m. and drank coffee. She most likely had to wait for the newspaper to get there because NOTHING… not even a raccoon on a post-rabies high from the night before… is up that early in the morning. She usually ate lunch around 10:45 a.m. and dinner at 4:30 p.m. She watched Golden girls in bed from about 6:00 p.m until she fell asleep at 8:00 p.m. Like a lot of people… I watched the golden girls with her in my youth and had no clue why it was so funny until I watched it again in my 20’s.  Oh Blanche… you saucy whore.

She was one of the least maternal human beings on the planet. I was obviously in school during the day (and we didn’t live with her except every other weekend) so I am not quite sure what she did for the hours between the two bites of food she ate at each meal… but there was certainly no baking of cookies going on. She could cook approximately one meal… and it was some sort of goulash with spinach soaked in mayonnaise on the side.  I think she only made it one time… and that is probably for the best.

For a while I thought she was a lesbian, because she had issues of playboy in a weird magazine stand in her bedroom. My mom thinks she probably “had them around for the articles,” but regardless it is good to know that my crazy grandma would have voted for Obama.  This however, comes into strict contrast with the occasional visits from her California “boyfriend” named Bud… who largely stayed smoking cigarettes indoors and rested the cigarettes between drags on an extremely loud electric ashtray that actually sucked the smoky air back into itself. Where did the air go grandma… where did it go? Rumor has it Bud asked Dru to marry him, so that they could be part of the three-letter first name club (fine… that’s not true). She apparently told him no, and they (Bud, Dru, and her independence) dated until she miraculously outlived him.

One thing we Bernards are really quite adept at is drinking wine. And while she drank wine at night with dinner, she also drank a lot of grapefruit juice… often at 3:30 in the afternoon… which is not really juice/breakfast time. So while I wouldn’t technically classify her as an alcoholic… it is entirely possible. Largely because when you weigh 79 pounds one strongly poured greyhound could get you through a large majority of the day with a good buzz. They don’t even have alcohol consumption guidelines for people that small because people that small are usually under the age of 12.

She was someone who truly did what she wanted… when she wanted. She was an avid member of a terrier rescue organization, and dearly loved her Scottie named Freeway (because he was rescued from an interstate) and her terrier named Sweet Pea. She wore her retainers at night… well into her 80’s. She had what I like to call, “Pirate Hair.” At 83, she still refused to cut her hair, which at that point had never fully grayed and fell halfway down her back. She looked kind of like a grayed version of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, but without the beads. She drove a manual transmission Subaru legacy until the day she died. She frequented a bar called Shipwrecks… which for your reference is nowhere near an ocean. And she went along day to day doing her thing like a woman two decades younger than her actuality.

This was her life… which even in my youth I found comical. Tune in next week to find out how I learned the most important things about her… which was actually in death. And it’s pretty damn hilarious. 

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