My grandmother tracked everything. Who needs an app to track when you have sex? She certainly didn’t.
Unfortunately, my Grandmother died when I was only 17. She was 77, a few years older than my Mother is today. Complaining of fatigue for months, her family doctor prescribed more and more medication. By the time she was hospitalized, her cancer was inoperable and she had mere months to live.
But this post isn’t about the failure of her doctor or her death; it’s about her sex life.
To my teenage self, 77 seemed rather old. My Grandmother was raised in a very conservative Christian faith. Her father was a church leader and came from a long line of leaders; she wore an external sign of her faith every single day of her life.
Her faith also dictated she didn’t mess with what God gave her: no shaving, no waxing, no hair dying, no bling, not even a wedding ring. I’m not sure she ever wore a dress above the knee.
She had lots of friends and she taught me to play pool. I was shocked to find a recipe for homemade wine among her papers as drinking was frowned upon. A common joke about my ancestors is that sex is banned because it leads to dancing.
Well, sex certainly wasn’t banned – and if judging only from frequency, my Grandmother seems to have embraced the absence of sexual restriction.
Her husband died when I was only 7. A 67 year-old seems ancient to a child. She moved into a retirement community and started dating. I was the beneficiary of a great summer vacation from the suitor who dated her when they were in their 20s and who waited the requisite year of mourning to ring her up again.
Think about that for a moment. She was his unrequited love for almost fifty years.
When they broke up, she dated someone from her retirement community, until he died. There were others, but her brevity of writing and expression don’t give me many details. I will dig up the entry the day she was engaged to my Grandfather. If not for a subsequent reference to being engaged I would have missed it entirely, it was so terse.
So while is hard to know whether “Carl came to call” means they sat and talked over coffee or they got horizontal – she definitely had several suitors and didn’t lack for male attention.
Her last boyfriend was Bill. He was blind, and with her until her death.
My Aunt had all of my Grandmothers journals in her attic. Over the course of several visits, I made my way through them. On one occasion we noticed she had circled a number of dates in red. Nope, not her menstrual cycle.
Every single date circled had a reference to Bill.
“Lovely evening with Bill.”
“Bill came over.”
“Took a shower and went up to Bill.” (My favorite, by far)
Yup. She marked every time she had sex.
It was a lot.
There are slips of paper tucked into the back of some of the journals – listing every date circled in red, and totalling the number. One list ends with a comment that Bill had hand surgery on a certain date. There were no entries listed after that and I confess to laughing out loud upon reading. Poor Grandma.
Well into her 70s, my Grandmother had more sex in one year than I did in many years of marriage.
Having experienced a post-marriage sexual reinvigoration, it makes me miss her even more. I didn’t even know what questions to ask at 16. But now the list is endless.
I’m curious about her love life and her sex life. Why she didn’t marry the man who wanted to still date her 50 years later. Whether she had a libido similar to mine. Whether she ever struggled to reconcile it with her conservative upbringing. Did she ever talk to her friends or sisters about sex? Did she ever get on top?
Or perhaps this was obligation on action. Perhaps she did what was expected and I am simply trying to find a correlation which isn’t there. Perhaps I am applying my 2016 thinking on a woman born in 1913.
But as my Mom reminds me, human behaviour hasn’t changed all that much.
So wherever you are Grandma, and whichever male companions are in your path, I hope you are rocking their worlds. I miss you.