My Grandma Guida was probably one of the most stubborn people I know and very protective of her possessions and house. She grew up during the Great Depression and would keep items that had long ago expired. She would open nylons which would crumple or have boxes of laundry detergent whose companies had gone bankrupt. If we told her to get a rid of anything, she’d scrunch her eyebrows and stuck out her chin. “That’s good stuff.”
Throwing away anything would end up in a knock down fight. Grandma did not like to part with anything. She had a generous side, too. When I was a little girl, Grandma would give me a goodie box at Christmas with shorts, shirts and pants that she had bought on Black Friday. To this day, my mother carries on this tradition with my niece and nephews.
My Grandfather died when I was eighteen years old and Grandma was sixty-eight at the time. She was Italian and lived in North Denver across from the Masonic Temple.
Her house was a bi-level. She had two kitchens one upstairs and one downstairs. There were four bedrooms – two upstairs and two downstairs. One used to be my father’s, but it was so crammed with junk, no one ever went in there. For some reason, the bedroom scared me, so I never went in there. I guess it was because of the mausoleum look with all the old faded clothes, piles of fabric, old sewing machine, sewing mannequins and boxes and boxes of unknown stuff. I couldn’t even walk in there. It just seemed dead and dusty.
Grandma slept in the other bedroom. Grandpa had died in bed and Grandma refused to get rid of the lumpy mattress. When he died, she said, “I woke up in the middle of the night and grabbed his hand and he was so cold.”
Unfortunately, the neighborhood started to deteriorate and crime rose in terms of burglaries. We tried to get Grandma to move to a smaller place, but she’d give us her Italian scowl. “My daddy built that house and I’m not moving.”
One night, Grandma woke to a strange noise upstairs. She slowly climbed the stairs to her kitchen, pulled back the curtain and peered outside. Strung out on drugs or drunk, a man stared at Grandma.
Without hesitation, Grandma said, “You go away.”
The man lifted his hand and slammed into the window, cracking it.
Grandma gritted her teeth. “I’m calling the police. You’d better get out of here.”
The man blinked, surprised that Grandma did not cower in fear, but he did not know her. He threatened to rob her, take her things and break into the house that daddy built. She’d go down fighting, before she’d let anyone rob her.
He turned and ran. The police did arrive and Grandma described the man. She did not call my parents until the next day. Tenacity.