Costa Rica Introspection

Leaning in

I skipped the last two weeks of blog posts thinking that the only real thing that captures my mind is not the beautiful surroundings of Costa Rica but the antics of my dysfunctional grandparents. Every morning my grandpa will ask me if I am finished with my book yet (I have given up explaining that it’s a blog). One morning he told me I should write about my time with the elderly.

Realizing I was trying to steer away from writing about them, I took his suggestion as permission to really lean into it. My excuse for not writing focusing on my grandparents is that I felt like I was presenting them in an unflattering manner. But really, they are interesting people and drop life lessons, even if the lessons are a warning to live in the opposite way.

Leaning in.

Every morning my grandpa and I will share long looks. If he doesn’t have anything to say and I don’t have the energy to repeat myself a hundred times, we at least have that. Long staring contests. I don’t know if he can read minds or is practicing his telepathy, but he seems content with it. Sometimes he will waggle his bushy eyebrows at me and I will waggle my less bushy eyebrows back at him. He might comment that he knows “I have his blood” since most people lack independent control of their eyebrows. 

If he does start to talk to me, usually the conversation makes its way to Tiger Sharks. He will tell me that most people would not advocate eradicating an entire species, but he doesn’t share that opinion. Especially when it comes to the Tiger Shark. 

He has this idea, that he will encase a double-barreled shotgun in plastic wrap to keep it dry, then unload both barrels into the side of the Tiger Shark.

I asked him if he had any run-ins with the Tiger Shark, and why does he have such an ax to grind with them? He said three people have been bit by a Tiger Shark off Isla Coco. One man, two women. In his day, if an animal killed a man, they were put to death. Real intense stuff for the breakfast table! 

To answer everyone’s question. No, he never saw one personally.

My Grandma had a stroke many years ago and only has the use of the right side of her body. She makes it really easy to forget this though since she is such a powerhouse. Where my Grandpa was recently confined to a wheelchair and considers himself crippled, Grandma thrives. If no one is there to push her, she scoots across the floor backward. Like a cuttlefish. I never think about her limitations because she shows such willpower.

It should be said, my grandparents have 24-hour help and have had one or more maids all the time I have known them. This would be the height of opulence for most working-class Americans, but I grew up seeing that was how things are done in Costa Rica, then I go back to the United States and wash my own clothes and fixed my own meals. 

Grandma will regale us with tales of her past, how she built her house, how she modeled her kitchen, how she cooked the meal that day. She takes such ownership of these things you forget it was “at her behest” (and maybe slight involvement) but the tasks were all completed by someone else with her right on their heels. 

However, weird and flawed they are, I love my grandparents dearly. I see their eccentricities within myself and am proud they are a part of me. They have set themselves apart with how different they have lived their lives and remain an inspiration to me. Even their shortcomings are great lessons of how I can improve myself or learn not to fall into the same traps.

My time with them on this trip is coming to an end and with anyone especially the elderly you never know which visit will be your last. I hope to see them again soon but will cherish this time my son and I was able to spend with them.

By Sam Watson

I'm pretty good at Microsoft Excel but a freak in Google Sheets.

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Lauren Knapp
Lauren Knapp
2 years ago

So well said about your Grandparents Sam!! They are both blessed with Strong personalities!! I’m so glad you were there in their time of need!! Love Mom

Erika Lee Kline
Erika Lee Kline
2 years ago

Such a special time you’ve had in Costa Rica, you & Dash will remember so many precious memories from this time. I know your Grandparents have cherished every minute they’ve had with the two of you. I’m sure Delilah cannot wait to be with you two! Thanks for sharing such special stories.

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