February 19, 2005
Jennifer's grandmother was named "Burma." She stood about 4' 11" tall and was built like a basketball. But she was a fiesty old bitch and I really loved her. When she came to visit, I always asked, "Burma, would you like a drink?" and her response always was the same.
"Well... honey, I guess I could stand one right now. Just give me a little bit of bourbon on some ice, please," and she'd hold up two fingers about 1/4" apart. I'd throw some bourbon in a glass, add some ice and hand it to her.
Once she had a couple of sips and allowed the ice to melt, she'd say, "Rob, this drink's getting kinda weak now. Could you freshen it up for me?" And she'd rattle the ice in her oh-so-empty glass. She'd end up drinking half a bottle of Jim Beam, one sip at a time. She never got drunk, but she damn sure could drink.
Burma was a garage-sale vampire. Every weekend she climbed into that goddam road-boat car she had and ran all over the county attending garage sales. And if she EVER saw a Craftsman tool, she bought it. A pair of channel-lock pliers with one half-missing. SOLD!!! to Burma for 25 cents. A drill that doesn't work anymore? SOLD!!! to Burma for a dollar. The ratchet set with the hung-up ratchet handle? SOLD!!! to Burma for another dollar.
Then, that little old woman (just imagine the "Where's the beef?" lady from the Wendy's commercials) would haul all of that junk down to Sears, dump it on a counter and demand her replacement for the lifetime guarantee on those tools. She always got it, too. Who in a store like that wants to create a scene with an old woman half-full of bourbon at the time?
After that, Burma threw her own garage sale and sold those BRAND NEW Craftsman tools and other bargains she found at garage sales for 100 times the money she paid for them. She was a slick old woman who liked to shop, dance, drink and play cards. She always told me that she didn't like old men. "They all have prostate problems, and that's all they want to talk about. I want somebody who likes to dance and play cards."
Burma was one hell of a woman. She fell ill in 1996 and went into the hospital. Her breast cancer was back. This time it got her. She was dead three days later.
It was a Baptist funeral, which is supposed to be all solemn and full of fear of God. One of her sons was a minister and he preached her eulogy. I never liked him very much, but he said something that I couldn't deny as he stood in the pulpit preaching over his mama's dead body.
"Did my mama ever ask you for anything that wasn't just this much?" as he held his fingers about 1/4" apart. Everybody in the church burst out laughing. That was Burma's style. If you kept giving her just that much, you would have nothing left before long.
I miss that old woman.
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