Remember when staying with Grandma used to be fun? When Grandma was all about baking cookies and going to the store for special treats, movies out, stuff like that? Didn’t you like staying with your Grandma from time to time? I know I did. My Grandma was cool. We called her Nana. We drove her nuts.
There are a couple of adages in our culture, seem to go way back. One is some blather about growing old gracefully, and the other is that guests start to smell like fish after a couple of days. So, in this vein, try to picture, if you will, sort of mixing the two of those together. Only, instead of the “growing old gracefully,” you make it something like, “Growing old and crotchety, dementia or not,” and “I love ya, but it’s time for you to get your big fat behonkus outta my house,” because nothing says “I love you” like Grandma pushing you out of her house with her walker.
We had the experience recently of a visit to Hubs’ momma, who lives out of state. We hadn’t seen her for a year and a half, and although she basically looks the same, somewhere along the way she’s developed some interesting habits. I say “interesting” in light of the fact that she’s about 78. What I mean to say is “uh oh” habits. Like when she starts talking about something and then a few minutes later you hear the same trip down memory lane all over again. She’s still OK enough that she catches herself, but not without a “I’m still as sharp as I ever was!” like she’s testing you or something. Yeah, sharp as a butter knife there, sister.
Every time I told Sunnybuns to put his shoes on, she’d sing this little song to him “Put yer shoes on Lucy, don’t you know yer in the city,” and he’d roll his eyes at me. It happened every single time. There came a point when he just went into the bedroom and started to cry because it was drivin’ him nuts.
One afternoon she was beside herself because she thought she’d run out of Diet Coke. Just walkin’ around bangin’ that cane all over creation, havin’ a bird about it. I offered to go down to the supermarket and buy her another fridge pack. I knew that we hadn’t downed any of it, because we don’t do diet ANYthing (obviously, particularly with my fondness for Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls and Puffed Cheetos). She wailed and moaned and complained ad nauseam about not having a peanut-sized bottle of it to have a sip off of, but heaven forbid I should go get some for her. She went back into her little TV room and talked about how she was going to solve the case of the missing drinks.
I immediately thought of Captain Queeg and the strawberry incident in “The Caine Mutiny” starring Humphrey Bogart. I could picture her, sitting there in her recliner, rubbing those steel balls together, talking about how she would search that house from stem to stern to find those drinks! It was definitely an “uh oh” moment listening to her. I decided I’d better get my tail in gear and try to get it resolved asap.
I went out to the garage, where she’d been an hour before rummaging around, and when I opened the door, there was a fridge pack not two feet in front of me. I picked it up and popped the remaining six cans into her fridge. She stood there, mouth hanging open, and asked, “Where did you find those?” I said, “Right there, right when I opened the door. You could have tripped right over them.”
She went and stood in the doorway to the garage for five solid minutes, staring into it, basically talking to herself about how they weren’t there five minutes before. I tried to disappear down the hall but she called me back and demanded that I show her exactly where I’d found those drinks. I stepped down and took two steps. “One ... two...” and showed her the demarcation line on the carpet where the box had been. I know she thought we were up to some devilish scheme, but trust me, such was not the case.
I also got roped into watching every episode of “MASH” (yes, the agonizing episodes after McLean Stevenson left, where they all seem to develop morals), “Murder She Wrote” (which made ME want to go into the bedroom and cry), “Matlock” (same thing there) and of course, every granny’s favorite: “Mama’s Family.” If I ever wanted to stick my head in a gas oven, it was then.
She developed an obsession with a little fruit stand that had closed down. She’d been there one time in four years, but she was completely distressed about it closing. For approximately a week, I could just about count to a thousand when she’d say, “That little fruit stand closing really upsets me!”
Hubs, somehow, had managed to avoid most of this. He got into trouble, though, don’t get me wrong. He moved a cactus plant that she’d had by the entry way. Moved it about six inches to the side, just a little further into the yard, for fear that she might fall into it one day. Honey, that was the wrong thing to do. She railed about that for hours. He finally moved it back and told her he was not going to be the one to pull those dreaded spines out of her old tookus if she fell on it.
When we finally decided we needed a break, we headed for a laundromat. We took our clothes and sat in the noisiest, dingiest, yuckiest holeinthewall in town. It was a relief.
I told Hubs he was beginning to smell a bit like haddock.
He told me I was beginning to smell a bit like old fried shrimp.
We left in a cloud of dust the next morning, with Grandma shakin’ her cane at us.
I kinda feel sorry for ol’ Grandma, though. She probably won’t know who we are next time we visit, but that might just be a blessing in disguise. Hubs can claim to be Colonel Potter, and I’ll pretend to be Jessica Fletcher, helping her solve “The Case of the Missing Drinks.”