Grandma was a sharp-shooter
My mother's mother's father, I am told, came from Albany to New York City, fleeing the secure trammels of the family's pharmacy business. He wanted to be a photographer, and he got to record in images the construction of some of the interboro bridges. But eventually those were built. In the (financial) depression that soon hit, he was fortunate to find work as some sort of animal control officer.
My father is telling stories I don't remember hearing before - not remarkable, as my recall is pretty poor. I may well have been exposed to them. But, I think that there is more detail to the ones that are familiar, too. That or he's inventing things - hard to check against other peoples' versions, now. According to him, my mother's mother would as a youngster go with her father when he did his rounds in the Central Park Zoo, and they would shoot rats behind the animal's cages; rapidly scuttling rats. She took great pride in her accuracy.
She is still alive and walking, though her body is wearing out. She recounted how a doctor asked her "Well, what else is still working at all at 95 years?", which does put a certain perspective upon it, I guess. She actually seems to complain less of late. My dad has dryly stated that she's "enjoyed ill health for many years", and it has been the mainstay of her conversation, showing a certain relish in carping on her problems and her doctors. She is now more often quiet.
I asked her to corroborate at Thanksgiving about the Zoo story. I'm not sure if it's wandering attention, or fading memory or her dimmed hearing that caused her to respond "Hmm?" in a frustrated inquiring tone to my question about her markswomanship. She went on "I'm becoming a zombie, sorry."
We spoke instead a bit about contemporary rats, those which infested her house recently. Poison is out due to her dog. She humorously moaned about traps snapping her fingers. My brother asked, "have you still got your rifle?" That would seem to indicate that he also has heard stories about her shooting vermin, so maybe dad's version isn't invented wholesale - but she again looked puzzled.
Darn it, here I am actually interested in hearing tales from the past - isn't that supposed to be an old person's fondest wish? - and she can't produce them. I recall a time last year when I asked her about my mom's youth and she seemed baffled, ashamed and annoyed that she didn't have anything come to mind to recount.
Strange, as usually it's the distant past that's clearest to an aging mind, as with my own daddio. She's Not fulfilling the basic Elder's function of providing stories of yore, here. Were there ice floes available, I might leave her on one. I really don't see the point of her continuing life ; in pain, lonely, nearly blind, losing recall of her own past, and usually malodorous as she is. But probably fortunately it is not up to me.