Know Your Roots Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,892 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,416 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Each Other/Know Your Roots Expert Level Merit Badge, I continued where my Intermediate Level left off.

Right at the intersection of Mysterious and Secrets. At the corner of Suspicious and Questions. At the … well, you get my drift.

I was adrift at sea in an ocean of unanswered questions. Call me overly poetic and dramatic, but something was definitely up with my Grandma Barbie. First, she got all weird on me when I mentioned someone named Blaine, and then she hung up on me! Grandmas aren’t allowed to hang up on their granddaughters.

And now, of all the nerve, she is so totally avoiding my phone calls. Ever one step ahead from my ornery grandmother, I borrowed Midge’s phone and dialed the retirement home in Florida one more time.

Not recognizing the number, Grandma Barbie answered cheerfully. “Why, hello, Midge, darling! I’m so glad you called. Could you do me a favor and tell Jane I went away on a cruise or something?”

Me: “Gramma! You are in so much trouble!”

I hear the sound of the phone dropping. Then, “Oh dear. Dear, dear. Well, I always knew this day would come. Hang on, sweetie, I need to refresh my sweet tea if we’re going to go over family history.” I hear her gulp thirstily.

I drum my nails loudly into the speaker as a subtle hint. “You hung up on me, Gramma.”

G.B.: “Yes, I know, dear. I was just so surprised to hear you mention his name after all these years.”

Me: “Who? Blaine? This mysterious fellow from the Outback of Broken Hearts? This Australian Casanova? This …”

G.B.: “You’re being overly dramatic. Now stop getting your knickers in a twist, and I’ll tell you all about it.”

I wrinkle my nose. “Just the facts, ma’am.” The thought of my elderly grandmother getting cozy with anyone gives me a bad case of the no-thank-yous. “Who’s Blaine?”

G.B.: “Well, it was the summer your grandfather and I broke up. It was the late ’60s, you understand, and a time of free love and …”

Me: “BLECH! Get to the point, Grammy!”

G.B.: “Don’t sass me, young lady. Where was I?”

Me: “Making my stomach knot with unnecessary mind pictures.”

G.B.: “Right. Well, anyway, Ken disappeared that year and Blaine was introduced. He was my friend, Summer’s, brother. Remember Summer?”

Me: “Blue hair? Bad driver?”

G.B.: “Well, not back then, but yes. Blaine and I went together for a while. It was a wild time. He was very sweet.”

Me: “Well? And what happened then?”

G.B.: “Well, nothing really. We broke up because Ken came back. Midge started dating Alan. Skipper and Stacie took up a lot of my time. The rest is history.”

Me: “That’s it? Why’d you hang up on me? I thought you were going to reveal some big family secret!”

Grandma laughs. “Oh, Janie, you always were such a worry wart. Now stop poking your nose into my love life, and get crackin’ on yours. Okay, darling?”

I frown. Trust Gramma to spin the situation around. “Okay. But …”

G.B.: “Oh dear, sounds like there’s a bad connection again! Ffklj! Kklmnw?”

Me: “Gramma, you’re just putting your hand over the mouthpiece and making funny noises again, aren’t you?”

G.B.: “Lmeoico? Ajfft!”


Some critics have called my Grandmother a dumb blonde, but I’m telling you … she’s tricked them all. That woman is deep.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Whenever all 5 of us girls get together, we can spend hours telling stories about the family. The two oldest girls were from my Dad’s first marriage and he married my mom after his wife died. So, the two oldest have tales of Dad as a young man and what it was like when he married my mom and added 5 more to the mix. Now in my 60s, I cherish all of these stories and photos of who my parents and grandparents were and what kind of life they lived. Family stories and history help me understand who I am and also put into perspective those in the family who were always “a little different” or “temperamental”. In the big context, those qualities are seen more as badges of honor and not so worrisome. After all, everyone has someone in the mix who insists on marching to the beat of a different drummer!

  2. Stay tuned for more glorious adventures! Gee, Gramma had a life? We all tend in retrospect to want our relatives to be staid and perfect. Good for you Gramma, for having a little romance in your life ! But, she’s tame compared to my married 4 (or maybe 5 ) times Grandmommie. My friend , the geneologist is still researching that wild woman’s life for me. And trust me, there are way bigger secrets in this woman’s life. Enjoy finding your roots .

    • MaryJane says:

      You know what Margaret Mead, who was married 7 times said, “Oh my, yes, and I loved them all.”

      • Karlyne says:

        I did NOT know that Margaret Mead was married 7 times! Wow, look out Elizabeth Taylor!
        My real, very adored Gramma was divorced way back before it was acceptable and common (in the ’30s, I think, when my dad was quite young), and how I wish I knew more about her life! I should have pinned her down and made her talk about the past… She’s been gone almost 33 years, and I still miss her.

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