My late Grandmother, my mother’s mother, was a very awesome lady. She lived through 2 world wars. She was one of the first women drivers in Quebec. She had breast cancer in the 1950s, but worked her ass off to survive it*. She had a child in her mid-forties and effectively raised her by herself, and she helped raise me until her death in 1989. Though I don’t remember her that well (I was in the first grade when she passed away), I like to think that she still kind of lives on in me in the small ways she influenced my life. She taught me to like pink Smarties, she taught me how to appreciate Night Court and she taught me to love Charles Bronson.
The Charles Bronson thing is probably one of the things I find funniest about my grandmother. You see, Grandma was a very quiet tiny woman. She was tender and sweet with everyone and she was a big giver of hugs. But under her soft exterior was an avid Death Wish fan. Now if you haven’t seen the series, let me just give you a quick rundown:
Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, a solid mustache rocking dude who served in the Korean war but who now lives in New York and works as an architect. He has a nice wife and daughter and lives a happy life until some hooligans break into his apartment. They sexually assault his daughter, beat his poor wife and leave them both for dead. Paul’s wife later succumbs to her injuries and his daughter is left catatonic from the trauma of it all. So of course Paul is very upset by this and doesn’t know what to do, especially when he is told by police that the chances of catching the horrible men who did this are slim to none. So to keep from feeling helpless, Paul decides that the best thing to do would be to hit the streets and dispatch his own brand of justice.
Now you might think that a petite senior citizen and an angry mustachioed vigilante don’t exact seem like a match made in heaven, but Grandma loved these movies with a passion. She rooted for Charles and displayed a disturbing bloodlust while watching that only grew with each installment. She wanted Charles to get ’em, and she wanted him to get ’em good.
And in this way, I kind of feel like Grandma and I have something in common. Not only do we both love ridiculous action movies, but we also have an serious sense of right and wrong, a feeling that justice always needs to be served. Yeah, it’s kind of bananas and old testament of us, but seriously how satisfying is it to see a jackass get smited?
Anyway, I got to thinking about this this summer when Boy and I were going through some particularly hard times. We were in the worst of it when someone we both knew and trusted did something kind of crappy to Boy and it got my hackles up.
I’m not going to get into the specifics of who it was or what exactly happened, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t picture this person being ground into a fine dust and released on the wind, never to be seen again. So yes, I was ferociously grumping around the apartment cursing this person’s name until Boy managed to calm me down and . . . I realized I am kind of the Charles Bronson in our relationship. It’s not rational and it’s probably not the best use of my energy, but if you’re an active part of my life, that means I love you, and if someone wrongs someone I love, well that PISSES ME OFF and I want justice.
Thankfully enough, eventually everything worked itself out and my anger did fade, but I still have that initial Charles Bronson reaction to things that I don’t think will ever fully go away. Truth be told, I’m not sure I ever want it to because I’ve come to see there’s some value in that emotion. I’m never going to off someone Bronson-style, but to feel such love and loyalty for a person that you want to defend them, to help them, to root for them, to make things right for them after something goes wrong is kind of a good instinct. At the very least, it’s a lot better than everyone just walking around doing self-serving $h!t all the time.
I like to think Grandma would approve.
*Seriously, the lady went for radiation treatments on her lunch break and headed back to work afterwords. Grandma was hardcore.