Nadine O. sits down with Ginny Graham author of ‘Everybody Has a Story, And These Are Mine‘ who believes one of the most important things one can do in life is, to stay in the moment. Enough said. Shall we begin?
Nadine O.: I’m Nadine O. and this is the OVER 50 YOU ARE NOT DONE YET SHOW. A podcast documenting the lives of Americans 50 and over stories worth telling. Today, I would like to celebrate the life of Ms. Ginny Graham author of Everybody Has a Story, and These Are Mine. Shall we begin?
Ginny Graham: Conversations with my adult children. One. Watch your six-month-old puppy? For how long? Three weeks while you’re in South of France? Sure, no problem. Two. Oh, I’m so sorry your vacuum doesn’t work. Oh, borrow mine. Well, I have it in my hand as we speak since I was just cleaning up from the holidays. But, you really need it right now. Oh sure, no problem. When are you celebrating her birthday? Next weekend. Well of course we’ll have the party here. Yes, of course. I’ll make the cake with pecans and imported Belgian chocolate. Let you tack up decorations on my wallpaper and make my home totally available to you for the next week and a half. 25 to 30 coming? Sure, no problem.
Nadine O.: I’m here with Ginny Graham, actress, author, wife, and mom of eight from Drexel Hill. Thank you Ginny. How are you today?
Ginny Graham: Well, I’m wonderful and don’t forget I also have eight grandchildren.
Nadine O.: You have eight grandchildren as well? Wow. Congratulations.
Ginny Graham: Oh and I enjoy them.
Nadine O.: You just read a segment of your Everybody Has A Story, And These Are Mine book. When did you decide to write a book and what inspired you to do so?
Ginny Graham: Well, I’ll tell you the truth, I never inspired to write a book. I started some years ago. I took a course at a local college for creative writing, so that got me started. Then I joined a writer’s group and I’m not very good on discipline about the rules where you write every day and you sit down at the same place at the same time. So, mine is kind of like my acting work, freelance. I do it when the inspiration hits me, so I over the years have written short stories. I have very creative children I might add and my one daughter is an editor as a hobby. She is the one that created a book out of my short stories. To tell you the truth, I’m thrilled with it. Don’t misunderstand me. Also a little bit embarrassed. I don’t see any Pulitzer prize waiting for me, but I know my children will enjoy it when I’m not here talking anymore.
Nadine O.: We’re actually in Ms. Ginny’s house right now and the very doll house that her husband made for Christmas for one of his daughters and it’s pretty impressive. Would you tell us a little bit about the story about the doll house and how that came to be?
Ginny Graham: Well, our oldest daughter was eight years old and she was in great love for her siblings hanging on to Santa Claus and the concept. She asked for a doll house for Christmas. We were having … when you’re actors you do have some slumps as far as finances go. We were in a slump and we couldn’t afford a doll house. So, my husband built a doll house. It ended up being very good for him psychologically because he wasn’t working, and he would get down and hide in the basement and work on the doll house every day leading up to Christmas. I’m talking a matter of a few months.
Ginny Graham: Now, it is Christmas Eve. By the way, my father contributed his talents because he electrified the doll house, so you could actually turn lights on. The windows went up and down. I mean it is quite beautiful, and it’s not glued as many doll houses are. It is built to last and it has lasted. Well, I’ll finish about this little girl when she was eight years old. So, it’s Christmas Eve and my husband is really disturbed. The house is beautiful. We managed to buy some furniture we couldn’t afford, but the roof wasn’t done.
Nadine O.: The roof on the house on the dollhouse?
Ginny Graham: Was not completed. To tell you the truth, it was easier to play with without the roof, which has been added since. Anyway, he and my father are bringing the doll house up to put under the tree on Christmas Eve. As I repeat, my husband was disturbed that it wasn’t completely finished. At that moment, and this brings a tear to my old eye. This little girl appears at the top of these stairs, which was a very short flight of stairs. She realizes that it’s her father who’s Santa Claus, and he’s relieved because he can now explain to this little girl that there will be a roof. It was a beautiful, beautiful moment in our lives. The dollhouse is still with us and being enjoyed by neighborhood children and grandchildren and their friends. So, it’s a very, very important thing in my life.
Nadine O.: You’re listening to the over 50 you are not done yet show. I found that to be pretty impressive. There’s furniture. There’s actually figures inside sitting on the bed.
Ginny Graham: Oh yes.
Nadine O.: There were actual curtains in the windows and so many windows. It was just really, really impressive steps leading up to the front door. I was just amazed and I’m so glad you kept the house and it must really mean a lot to you to still have that.
Ginny Graham: Oh absolutely, and really to family because their father made it and he has unfortunately not been with us for 31 years. Pretty special guy to everybody. So, it’s symbolic.
Nadine O.: You also talk about acting. You still act when you-
Ginny Graham: When they need an old lady.
Nadine O.: When they need an old lady.
Ginny Graham: I had some wonderful experiences. To tell you the truth, I’m 88 years old. Isn’t that a big number?
Nadine O.: Oh, I think that’s 88 years young.
Ginny Graham: Well, I had been … I have to use the word blessed. I have had an absolute wonderful life. I won’t say never a problem, but not like some people experience. I had wonderful parents and you’ll love this. I’m an only child and no, I’m not spoiled and selfish. I told somebody I was an only child just within the last 10 years and the first words are, “Oh, spoiled and selfish.” We don’t raise eight children spoiled and selfish. I’ll tell you.
Nadine O.: That’s true.
Ginny Graham: Anyway, I am appreciative of my life. I’m appreciative of the adult children in my life who are wonderful to me. As I repeat, I’ve had some wonderful acting experiences, but I took about 30 years off. So-
Nadine O.: How you doing?
Ginny Graham: Good. How are you?
Nadine O.: All right. That’s your son?
Ginny Graham: Yes, it is.
Nadine O.: Okay. Now, which one?
Ginny Graham: He’s my youngest.
Nadine O.: Your youngest son.
Ginny Graham: He was one of our big surprises.
Nadine O.: More information on our guests today can be found in our show notes and on our website. You wrote about him in the book. Was he the one that was surprised about the gas station?
Ginny Graham: Oh, no. That’s another son that loves cars. I’ll tell you this young boy loved cars so much he used to … the flaps that are in the back of trucks, he would go up and stroke them like they were the Holy Grail. We’re on a trip with eight in a motor home, by the way, eight kids in a motor home is an interesting experience.
Nadine O.: Sure.
Ginny Graham: So, we break down on the way to Florida and we ended up being … ending up in a gas station where we had to spend the night and everybody was starting to grumble about it. This young man says, “Oh, I always wanted to live in a gas station.” My husband and I said, “Well, wouldn’t you make a kid’s dream come true? You can’t complain.”
Nadine O.: I’d like to ask you about one of your funniest experiences as an actress or most memorable.
Ginny Graham: One of the most memorable experiences I had and it was a very nice break, I was in a show called Shear Madness, which ran for two years and part of the show was improv because we allowed the audience in. This one night, one of the women in the audience got on my character’s case. I looked out and I said … I was a very upscale, snooty lady in this show. I looked out and I said, “Oh, I see black’s not as thinning as it used to be.” Well, I sought the cast and there were five of us in the cast. I thought they’d fall off stage. They’re like, “Ginny!” Then the show was also done in Washington DC and this I found amusing. They had scripted our ad-libs, and that was one of the ad-libs they scripted.
Nadine O.: Wow. So, you pulled that one on out.
Ginny Graham: Oh, and the other one was if a child got on my case, I’d say, “Now I know why I never had children.” So, it was a wonderful experience, and it actually came into my life right when I needed it, which I’ve had happened many, many times. Synchronicity, I believe it is. I’ve experienced and I treasure it.
Nadine O.: Tell me, what are the most misconceptions that people have of others who are retired?
Ginny Graham: Well, by the way, retired isn’t a concept that at least I’ve never had that in my mind. I mean, what am I retiring from? Life? No? When I die, yeah, I’ll be retired. When you’re in the arts, you don’t retire.
Nadine O.: Okay.
Ginny Graham: Life changes. There’s different needs for you than there used to be. I don’t feel retired now because if somebody needed what I have to offer, I do it. In fact, one of the things I have in mind since I’m anxious, not anxious, I’m looking for a new project and I used to frequently go in and volunteer in the schools, because I really enjoy children. It’s so complicated in today’s life to go into schools. I did get fingerprinted and a background check.
Nadine O.: Oh, we have to worry about you.
Ginny Graham: I thought, “Oh, I hope they didn’t find out all the terrible things I did.” Anyway, but as I said, unfortunately, it’s just gotten so, so complicated to do. I do have in mind, and I’ve heard talking to people that there is a receptive thinking about this and that’s to go into retirement nursing facilities. In this case, certainly not trying to sell my book, but to present the idea. This is my story. Now, I want to hear your story because it’s the truth. I love, as you can say, I love to talk. I go to Wawa for my coffee. Free plug for Wawa. I talk to people there all the time and get … It’s amazing how people will share their life stories with you. It’s exciting. And, I think it’s important.
Nadine O.: You’re listening to the OVER 50 YOU ARE NOT DONE YET show. I think that’s just great that you still want to give back, that you want to go out and talk to and inspire other seniors or should I say people living in the second half of their lives. That’s where I’m at too. That’s what I want to do. I feel pulled towards doing that and I just think that’s awesome.
Ginny Graham: Well, that’s part of what this project is all about, isn’t it?
Nadine O.: Yes, it is.
Ginny Graham: I did have an interesting conversation recently with a friend of mine that, by the way, I met in sixth grade. I’ll tell you why I remember it, because we used to play on the playground, a game called Boys After Girls.
Nadine O.: Oh really?
Ginny Graham: Oh yeah. They would chase us and there would be a place of they have to get us back to. It was very thrilling, especially if your boyfriend was chasing you.
Nadine O.: Uh-hmm (affirmative).
Ginny Graham: Well, this girl was new and the teacher, we kid about this, the teacher picked me to entertain the new girl at lunch. I am seesawing with the new girl while everybody else is playing Boys After Girls and I’ve never forgiven her. (laughs) We were talking recently and we were agreeing that you do get to a point that you’re going to have to admit that there’s some things you can’t do. For instance, I like to garden. It’s been my hobby. In the back, it’s a slope. Well last year, I’m out working on the slope and my balance is not excellent. I fell, did not hurt myself and I rolled all the way down the slope.
Nadine O.: Oh wow.
Ginny Graham: While I’m rolling, I’m thinking, “Oh, I hope I don’t roll on my new plants.” (laughs) I really decided that one roll down the back bank is enough, so I’m not the gardening out there anymore.
Nadine O.: Are there any other challenges that you face?
Ginny Graham: I don’t have as much ambition as I have had in my life. I don’t like that about myself. I’ll tell you the truth. I read a lot. I don’t watch TV, I want to be on it, but I don’t want to watch it. (laughs) I’m not as busy as far as work is. I’m a reader, which I think comes from being an only child because I read Nancy Drew at night. That’s what I did.
Ginny Graham: I really want to go out and talk to newlyweds and tell them how they should end an argument. Okay. Well, Bob and I didn’t do much yelling at each other because he was sort of … he would withdraw and then I’d throw furniture downstairs to get attention. Anyway, this day we are kind of going at it. I couldn’t tell you what it was about out in our center hall. I said to him, I said, “You know you are so picayune.” He said, “Spell it.” I couldn’t spell picayune at the time, which now I can P-I-C-A-Y-U-N-E.
Nadine O.: Nice.
Ginny Graham: We got laughing so hard. It was … I’ll never forget it. I thought if we could all end an argument or in this manner, wouldn’t that be precious? Yeah?
Nadine O.: That would be pretty awesome.
Ginny Graham: Yeah. So anyway, we call it the Picayune Story.
Ginny Graham: Well, I have two premises that I live by. One is stay in the moment, like right this moment I’m having fun with Nadine and I feel like I’m conversing with you people that are listening. The other is what my husband said, I think it was on our wedding day, which wasn’t very romantic at the time, but I have followed his advice. He said, “Ginny, we’ve got to keep our sense of humor or this isn’t going to work.” You know, I think that’s something we all need is a sense of humor.
Nadine O.: Thank you for joining me today. Don’t forget to subscribe to our show on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Until the next time. My name is Nadine O. and you’ve been listening to the OVER 50 YOU ARE NOT DONE YET Show.
Ginny Graham: ‘Conversations With My Adult Children’, first, watch your six month old puppy? For how long? Three weeks while you’re in the South of France? Oh, sure, no problem. Oh, I’m so sorry. Your vacuum doesn’t work. Oh, borrow mine? Well, I have it in my hand as we speak, since I was just cleaning up from the holidays. Oh, but you really need it now. Sure, no problem. When are you celebrating her birthday? Next weekend. Well, of course we’ll have the party here. Well, yes, of course. I’ll make the cake with pecans and imported Belgian chocolate. Let you tack up decorations on my wallpaper and make my home totally available to you for the next week and a half. Oh, there’s 25 to 30 coming? Sure, no problem.
Ginny Graham: The baby’s due very soon, right? In 10 days? You want me to take care of the other toddlers for the next six weeks so you can get acclimated? Oh, sure. There’s no problem. You need to borrow how much money? Oh, you’re only four months behind on your mortgage payment. Well, how much is your mortgage payment? Oh sure, no problem. Borrow my car for your trip, how long? Oh, two months? Where are you going again? A cross country? Oh sure. No problem. Well, what time do you want him picked up? 2:00 a.m.? Where was that again? LaGuardia Airport. Oh, it’s only three hours away. Sure, no problem.
Ginny Graham: Oh, thank you so much for the Dutch oven for my birthday. Well, yes, of course. I know you love pot roast and I didn’t really need another bottle of perfume. You’re off Mondays and want to come by each week for dinner. Pot roast with all the trimmings. Sure. No problem. You think you need to be able to access my bank account? You want your name and all my legal documents and power of attorney? Sure, no problem. Oh, darling. You want me to cosign a loan for your daughter for college and pay the interest every month? Sure, no problem. PS, I would do it all over again with the same cast.
EVERYBODY HAS A STORY AND THESE ARE MINE.
by Ginny Graham and Diane Chew
Available on Amazon.com
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Featuring- Walk Break, Oh What a Whirl by Jules Gaia