My Gypsy Granny’s Super Powers

This is a transcript of a podcast recorded in the previous format of this show. Therefore, the audio file is not here. Enjoy reading! 

I suppose that the word Gypsy means something a little different to everybody. I’m sure I’ll get comments about this podcast about how I should be saying Rom or Roma or Romani instead of gypsy.

Let me be clear. I am one of many people choosing to reclaim the word gypsy. The expansiveness, mystery, creativity, beauty. My Granny does not refer to her grandfather as Rom. He spoke Romanichal, but she calls him gypsy. Her Aunt Genevieve, gypsy. Her fortune-telling aunt that went by the name Madame Gable, a gypsy. I follow their lead and keep the word alive. I choose not to use the term gyped and when I hear others use it I see it as an opportunity to explain that it’s a derogatory term, like the word jewed, which I also see no need to use.

But to me, the word gypsy is sacred, precious and imperfect, just like my grandmother and her ancestors.

Like you, I don’t really want to be educated as much as we want to be entertained. And every time you listen to this podcast I want you to get something that will make you a little bit healthier and little bit happier, and I want you to enjoy it. I’m feeding my soul by loving you where ever you are. I am a traveler, and I fall in love with complete strangers all the time. I see God, the great spirit, science, whatever you call it, in everything and everyone. I want to see you shine.

Drinking water is one habit that makes me shine. Let’s take a little water break. You have some water near you? Let’s take a sip together right now. Water is a magical drink. I have met people who talk to water, and I’ve read about scientific studies that say water responds structurally to music. I try to drink a whole glass of water first thing in the morning and thank the universe for another day that I will not go thirsty. Water travels everywhere. It contains the whole world. Next time you think you’re hungry but you probably are just looking for something else, drink water. Drink water you’re sad, and it will help you smile.

My Granny doesn’t drink much water. All my life I’ve seen her sipping diet soda and not touching her water glass at restaurants. And my Granny doesn’t tell a lot of stories about her gypsy heritage, so I’ve been collecting them throughout the years. And in this podcast I’ll give you a glimpse of her life that may change the way you think about gypsies.

When Granny was little, she would pour herself a draft beer in a shot glass at the bar her family owned in Oswego NY. She’d sit down with her kid-size beer and do the books for the bar. Two sets. She was in 5th grade. Her granny Buckland bought the bar so her gypsy husband would stop traveling. His family had come to Oswego on carts and horses. They camped on what they call “Normal Hill” which I find poetic. Normal Hill is now part of Oswego State University.

Every year at the same time the family would gather at a grave in the Midwest. Granny says that’s all she knows about their travel patterns and where they’re from. My Granny grew up in the part of Oswego where the tough kids lived. One day she punched a boy in the face at school. The boy had called her a dirty gypsy. A nun pulled my Granny aside and asked her what happened. This part proves to me that my Granny has somehow always known what to say in the context where she is. Granny said “He’s German and we’re fighting the Germans.” No sob story. No bullshit. She just said what would get her the results she was looking for. That’s my Granny. The nun didn’t hit her or yell. She just said, “Don’t do it again.”

Now my Granny’s Aunt Genevieve was different. I actually got to know her a bit. I don’t know how old she was when she passed away a few years ago.

Our family always said Granny’s Aunt Gen was older than dirt, which was good enough for me. She had a glass eye that wandered. One day she offered to leave it to my cousin.

And she offered me her gypsy spells. I never got one, and often wondered if she ever had one. She did, however, have sticky fingers. Granny told me about a time they were in Mexico and Genevieve tried to steal bracelets that were all connected to each other. I guess it didn’t work out.

Genevieve didn’t like the stories non-gypsies told about how their family had arrived in Oswego. About how colorful they were, and how they stayed in tents on Normal Hill. My Granny doesn’t mind the stories. They showed how her family was different. When carnivals came to town, they would go looking for other gypsies. Granny said all they would find were Turks. I guess that means Granny’s family wasn’t connected to Turkey. Romanichal was spoken by British gypsies. They took care of horses so it sounds like even though they shared distant ethnic heritage arguably from Rajasthan in Western India, they didn’t identify with each other what so ever. Granny early years seem a bit traumatic, but she doesn’t wear them as a burden or an excuse.

When Granny was young her parents divorced and her mother and aunt got tuberculosis, they rode out to Arizona on a train. They lived in a trailer with a bucket for a toilet. Someone lost their ribs. I think it was an interesting time in American history. I’m grateful that tuberculosis is not sweeping the nation now. Our plagues now are heart disease, diabetes and cancer perpetuated by processed food dairy and meat. Anyway, there’s more on that in my other podcasts.

When Granny was a teenager she started drawing a beauty mark on her face every day. The photos of her are stunning.

Her first husband was in a car accident, and Granny was a widow with two babies when she was in her early 20s. When she married her second husband, my tiny sweet Sicilian grandfather, she was 6 years older than her new step-son. Kind of wild. So why do I tell you all this? Because I think it’s helpful to know that many gypsies actually lead what many would consider “normal lives”. And when people from Eastern Europe and other places where gypsies are marginalized talk negatively about gypsies, it’s helpful to know that stereotypes are not fact.

Every person has a story. We all create our culture. I incorporate whatever I discover that feeds my soul into my life and work to learn from beliefs and practices that are not serving me and then release them.

I go where I want to go all over the world. I dance in beautiful places. I eat what I want to eat, and I talk about food, belly dance and travel a lot more in my other podcasts. In this one I wanted you to meet my gypsy Granny.

#1 She lets everyone be exactly who they are

#2 She does not try to fix anyone

#3 She says the right thing to get what she wants

Those are super powers in my book.

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