So, grandma ended up needing the pacemaker. I just got off the phone with her, she’s in good spirits. I haven’t spoken to her, because I’ve been super-super sick. Of course, after recovering from heart surgery, all she wants to know is about how I’m feeling. because she’s a grandma. And she asks about Frank, and starts razzing me about how I’m not married yet. “Tell him to shit or get off the pot, mamela. That’s what I did with grandpa.” I’ve heard this story before, and it cracks me up. She mentioned grandpa finally anted up a charm bracelet in October, and asked her when she wanted to get married. They got married in December. I remarked how quickly she moved, and she said “Well, he told me we could either go on a honeymoon, or pay off the cops.”
She told me how my grandpa was a trucker (this I knew) and how he worked in the garment district, and something about there not being enough street parking, so he had to pay off the cops in order to get a good spot for his truck. Okay, not exactly life of crime stuff. I teased her about my grandfather, the underworld kingpin.
“Well, you know your grandfather worked for the Mafia for 4-5 years, right?”
Seriously? Grandma, at what point do you think we discussed Grandpa being a gangster?
She told me the story. Apparently, someone recommended Grandpa to a certain crime family that is well-known, but because I am paranoid, I won’t mention their name. He was exactly what they would have wanted. A good, clean-cut, soft-spoken guy who didn’t even tolerate cursing. Apparently, he worked for them for about 5 years, until he retired. That’s right, this wasn’t like a “young buck” situation. My grandpa was in his 60s, and I was already born!
The whole thing apparently freaked him out. He said that he once saw someone get some sort of Italian kiss on both cheeks, and grandpa ran out. He was terrified of what would come next.
I asked Grandma how he “got out.” I mean, what the hell do I know? Apparently, one can retire from being a Mafia trucker. And of course, the mobsters loved my grandpa. In fact, they throw him a “testimonial goodbye dinner” upstairs at some bakery in Brooklyn.
Grandma attended, of course. She tells me about her outfit – she work all black, with black stockings. She said if anything went wrong, she wanted to be dressed for her funeral. We are a prepared family. She wouldn’t stop describing the women. “One more beautiful than the next, with thick mink coats and dressed to the nines. And here I was, wearing my little carat and a half.”
Grandma was freaked out (“don’t even ask me what I ate!”) because she says normally only two brothers went to any event at a time. She says that all three brothers of this family attended Grandpa’s dinner (what can I say? We’re a likable family!) and she was terrified that all three of them meant there would be a massacre. She said her seat was by the stairway, and the entire dinner all she could think about was people running up the stairs with Tommy guns. Nevermind that this was the 80′s. Grandpa gave a speech, and all three brothers toasted my grandfather.
So, she tells me this whole story. I ask what else she “forgot” to tell me and she says she’ll think about it. So far, in the past month, I’ve found out my grandpa was both some sort of amazing WWII sharpshooter (more on that later), that we’re pretty sure there’s a secret family of his in Paris, and that he was a trucker for the mob. Of course.