Everyday Heroes: “Grandma”


Last night I spent part of my evening with Grandma (yep, that’s her name). She worked during Royce’s birthday party at the bowling alley last week; while she was almost hidden, something captured me about her. While I enjoyed two hours with a dozen 11-year olds running around, I’m not sure I could do it for more than a few times with a smile on my face. Yet, Grandma’s been doing it for decades. Smiling the entire time. For some reason I was spontaneously compelled to ask her if I could interview her for my blog, and with a shocked, confused, and flattered look on her face (yes, all at once), she agreed.

During my road trip across the United States, which started in Florida and ended in California (part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here) I fell in love with the “real people” in our lives all over again.

I am as enamored by Steve Jobs brilliance and legacy as the next start-up guy in Silicon Valley. And I can rattle off dozens of other “heroes” that impress me in various disciplines, from Jeff Bezos to Colin Powell to Johnny Cash…But among all the well known, accomplished, and highly celebrated heroes, there are millions of forgotten ones as well. They’re “Everyday Heroes” and that’s what inspired me during my cross country road trip. These are the millions of people who are the fabric of America, the ones who serve a purpose to our lives yet too often goes unseen.

When I met Grandma something captured me. I loved her spirit, simplicity, and compassion. She has all these gifts that I don’t have, and it’s so often in life that this goes unnoticed. So below is a short interview conducted with Grandma last night at the bowling alley. What I didn’t expect is that she was rather difficult to interview, she just kept things so simple and straightforward. When you read her responses below, on the surface you won’t find anything profoundly interesting or funny. Though, I can attest, she is adorable.

Post-interview I gave it some thought and, for me, captured this insight: there’s a simplicity to her life that few of us understand. One that I will probably never fully grasp, but it’s something I’ve grown to appreciate and respect.

With pins striking in the background, contemporary country music playing overhead, and unsurprisingly even a few guys with full on mullets in view, me and Grandma sat down and talked about life. So here’s to Grandma, one of my Everyday Heroes. 

Raz: How’d you get the name Grandma?

Grandma: My husband worked at this bowling alley before me, and they called him Grandpa. So when I started working it just seemed like a natural fit. People just started referring to me as Grandma, especially the kids.

Raz: Where’d you grow up?

Grandma: San Francisco, went to Balboa high school and I’ve lived here my entire life.

Raz: So tell me about Grandpa. How did both of you meet?

Grandma: Oh, we met through the bowling alley really, that was how we dated. The first time I met him I was working in a drug store and one day he brought me a rose and asked me out to dinner. Later, we got married at the bowling alley where he worked, in lanes 11 and 12–350 people were here! At our 20th year we renewed our vows at the Bowling alley, and we’ve been married 37-years.

Raz: So what’s the key to 37-years of marriage?

Grandma: Agree on everything.

[editors note: I was expecting laughter after that one…Grandma didn’t laugh. Ummm, okay that’s a tough one Grandma…can you give us a few other options? 🙂 ]

Raz: What do you love most about Grandpa?

Grandma: “He’s kind and sweet. So kind.”

Raz: Do you have kids? And do you have a “secret” to raising kids, or was there one piece of advice you’d share to other parents?

Grandma: Yes, I have two daughters. I was a good disciplinarian when they were young, that’s what I would tell people. Be a good disciplinarian. They are both wonderful daughters.

Raz: Grandma, you’re amazing with kids. That’s one of the things that drew me to you. What’s your connection with kids?

Grandma: I just love kids, that’s why I love being called Grandma. They just make me feel good, they interact and talk with me naturally. I have no favorite age group, I love them all. I’ve even had people want to be their nanny, but of course I couldn’t do it–I work too much.

Raz: What was one of the more challenging experiences you’ve had in your life?

Grandma: I’m not sure! (lots of laughter, and a really long pause).

[Editors note: loved how she couldn’t think of anything, if someone asked me that question I’d probably respond with “okay, how much time you got???”]

Raz: What are a few things you’ve learned about people from working at a bowling alley for so many years?

Grandma: I’ve learned that most parents don’t discipline their children very much. I think instilling discipline at a very young age is critical.

Raz: What inspires you?

Grandma: Being here, right at the bowling alley. It’s never boring, it’s always an adventure. I love it here. Grandpa’s birthday was on Sunday and he turned 80, they gave him a big tournament (points to a lane). He used to bowl four nights a week. He taught the children how to bowl. Oh, he was such an amazing bowler, but now that he’s sick he can’t bowl anymore. But he was so good when he was younger.

Raz: What’s the one thing you’ve never done but you always wanted to do?

Grandma: Gosh, I’m not sure. (lots of laughter followed by silence)

Raz: Where else have you worked? And what did you like about it?

Grandma: Oh, I worked at a drug store on 25th, and also at Collins pharmacy. I worked there 37-years. They sent me to cosmetics school, so I would help the people pick out cosmetics. There was nothing I didn’t like there. That was such a great job, I loved every moment.

Raz: Grandma, you have been such a delight. I love your passion for kids, and your spirit. You are a total gem. Thanks for giving me this interview.

Grandma: Awwwww, really? Thank you…Did I do okay for this interview and did you get what you needed? (pause). Are you sure I did okay?

Yep, Grandma. You did just fine.


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