By Cameron Crane
I know two superheroes. It’s not every girl who can say that. I’ve known them for my entire life…but it wasn’t until five years ago that I realized it. That’s because they spent the majority of my life undercover, cleverly disguised as my grandma and grandpa.
When my plane arrived in the San Diego airport in the Summer of 2007, I could feel the nerves beginning to creep up and down my body. I knew I shouldn’t feel them, in fact, I felt guilty for having them. Who gets nervous to spend time with their own grandparents? But this wasn’t going to be a regular visit. This was going to be two weeks — fourteen days of undivided interaction. Yes, I loved my grandparents, but I had never spent more than a weekend with them. What exactly could they talk to a 19-year-old about in the 168 solid hours we’d have awake together?
As always, my grandparents greeted me enthusiastically and let me know that while I was with them I should make myself at home. What they didn’t admit to me until years later was that they, too, were nervous. Two weeks was the longest they had ever hosted a guest. They were afraid that I would be bored and restless in their routine. In reality, it turned out to be quite opposite.
My trip was full of excitement. My grandpa showed me historical landmarks and took me to the aquarium. My grandma and I took a trip to Beverly Hills, where we found a jewelry store off Rodeo Drive that let us model million-dollar diamond masterpieces. We went to the beach, went shopping, and tried new restaurants. But to my surprise, what I looked forward to most each day was “Martini Time” at 6 o’clock, when we would gather in living room over a martini (or in my case a Root Beer) and just talk.
During that hour each day, my grandparents came alive to me. I learned about my grandpa’s childhood in America and my grandma’s childhood in Germany, both during World War II. I learned about their trials and tribulations with love, and about how they met at a piano bar when they had both given up on it altogether. I learned that before they fixed it up, the house we were sitting in belonged to a family who had eight rowdy children, and that the restoration process was so much work that they had almost walked away from it. It didn’t take me long to realize that they were two of the most interesting people I had ever met. They were brave, exciting, smart, honest, and glamorous. They were superheroes.
They still are. I have made many trips down to San Diego since that summer, and every time I look forward to the conversations I will share with them. Every time I leave with a feeling of overwhelming gratitude to have such amazing people in my life. Their honesty and their willingness to share their experiences with me have truly shaped who I am, who I will be as a mother, and who I will be as a grandparent. They are two of my biggest supporters, two of my biggest teachers, and they will always be two of my biggest heroes.