“Should we go fast Grandma?”
“Yes. Run — run — run!”
I put some speed behind her and feel tickled about giving her a little thrill. We sail past the nurses’ station and whipsaw through the resident la-la-land with its bird cage, big screen and parking lot of wheel chairs.
Thinking about the big kick she gets out of “being naughty,” I’m kinda hoping someone will yell at us — but we get a rise outta no one.
Back at her room, I hunt for a tissue at her request and settle on a wad of toilet paper that she quickly saturates and holds out for me to take from her. I attempt to tweezer a corner of it between the very tips of thumb and forefinger, believing there’s a way to accomplish this without getting snot on my own hands. But it drops to the floor, and then I just grab it.
“Now put me in bed where it’s nice and warm.”
This is not a small request. Kinda like trying to sink a free throw with a 150 lb. lead basketball. I land her butt about six inches short of the target and can’t boost her up any further so I move her pillow down instead. She’s quite happy as I begin to make her a Lalapalooza Blanket Sundae — synthetic plushy, knitted afghan, knotted edge fleece, cotton down duvet, and finally flannel down duvet.
Now we can talk. Me in her wheel chair and her in a position that resembles a coffin rehearsal way too much. Please don’t shut your eyes Grandma.
We pace slowly, in a relaxed comfortable fashion, through our favorite themes. She leads the way with her questions.
“Well I know you’re Julie. You lived with me when you were a baby, but whose daughter are you?”
“Why do you think you divorced? Was he Catholic?”
“No. Maybe that’s why.”
“I would think you’d be hurt. Were you?”
“Yes, but I had my family and I lived with my sister afterward for awhile. That helped.”
“She felt sorry with you, huh?”
“Yes, that’s a good way to put it Grandma —”
I do believe she felt very sorry with me. And that made all the difference in the world.