I have my Grandmom's chair in the library. And the footstool that my uncle made. My aunt made the needlepoint cover for it. I can picture Grandmom sitting in the chair, feet on the footstool, reading the paper. In my memory she is huge, dominate, not to be messed with and beautiful. White hair and fierce blue eyes. Skin so pale and paper thin.
The other day I was moving some books around. I had pulled the chair out to get to the shelf. When I turned around I realized the top of the chair was at my waist. I have been aware that the chair is smaller than my memory of her in it but standing there it became even more real to me.
I say I am a forth generation fat woman. I am talking about my maternal lineage. The women on my Dad's side were big but not fat. Although they thought they were. They talked about needing to lose weight all the time. They also seemed to think my mother and I were fatter. We were.
Looking at the picture of my great grandmother I see that she isn't exactly fat. She's round. My grandmom was round. They had bellies and breasts and thighs. My grandfather was tall and thin. My aunt took after him, tall and thin. It was a source of frustration for my mother who gained weight eating less than her sister. Genes are a grab bag.
I am fatter than all of the women in my family. I could put Mom's shoes into my shoes. I was a head taller.
Grandmom had no shame about the size of her body. It was just part of who she was. My mother was always trying to change her body. She sat sipping her liquid diet drink while the rest of us had dinner. Grandmom did not approve and she let it be known.
Grandmom had to walk up two flights of stairs to get into her house. She had to walk up one and a half to use the bathroom. For years she went down one to do laundry and carried the basket back up and up another to hang the laundry in the yard. She worked in her garden which was all slope. We walked to the store and the bakery and post office and church. She was on the move all the time.
When Grandmom's bridge club was in session and I came home from school they discussed my weight. At some point Grandmom would grab my arm, squeeze and say, "she's big but she's solid. I was never sure what that meant but it felt like she was saying my body was OK the way it was and no one should think other wise. I know that part of why I experience being fat as just ... my body and not a disease ... is because of my grandmom. I'm big but I'm solid.
I'd be afraid to sit in Grandmom's chair. It's very low and narrow. I'd be afraid I wouldn't fit and I wouldn't be able to get out. But I love it. Mom had it recovered at some point in lovely rose covered upholstery. But I sat in it when I was young.