2008 30 May

My Singular Grandmother

Author: Shawn Categories: Story Shelter

My Singular Grandmother

 

We sit at her white foldout kitchen table playing cribbage, the family requisite.  The little apartment is permeated with a fresh blossomy smell that breathes Grandma.  Dark wood furniture boasts of style, function, and order.  Collectibles and plants are splashed amongst swirled soft pink and green walls and carpeting.

 

For the countless time I gaze at this slight delicate woman dressed in cadet blue slacks, a floral silk blouse, and narrow dun-colored slippers.  Her slate wire glasses sit on her nose, firmly in their place.  Blue-gray curls neatly surround her oval thought-lined face. Clicking fingernails echo across the table at me. 

 

“Shawn, honey,” Grandma’s sweet grainy voice warns, “the game.”

 

I lay my hand and count, “Fifteen two, fifteen four, and his heels is five, not much,” I grumble.

 

She nimbly shuffles the cards and deals the next hand.  Her soft mouth sets and resets as she decides which cards to throw into her crib.  She always plays to win.

 

Everyone in our family considers it a great feat to beat Grandma, and we all are admonished if we don’t keep the game going at a brisk pace. 

Her eyes twinkle, like deep pools in the ocean, as she wins yet another hand. 

Your crib, dear,” she announces as she slowly rises.  I collect the cards and start shuffling.  Her hands grip the table baring bulbed joints and bulging light blue veins wandering amidst the spattering of age spots that paint her smooth skin.   

As she straightens her slender frame, she swallows an involuntary groan caused by arthritic pain.  Swiftly steadying herself, she pushes off the table and waddles across the kitchen, her arms rising to meet the cupboard.  Her movements are deliberate and flowing. A smoky blue glass emerges and she places it on the speckled counter. 

“Do you want a glass?” she inquires.

“No, the can is fine with me.”  I reply.  She glances at me with that ‘are you sure’ look; her eyes probing for certainty.  

“The cards are waiting for you Gramma,” I say, smiling. 

 

She shrugs, reaches into the fridge retrieving a 7-up™, and pours half of it into the glass.  A shadow of a smirk appears on her lips.  Probably wondering why a can is preferable to a glass, I muse.

 Returning, she plops the drinks on the table as I deal.  As she grasps the table, her rounded bottom makes its descent into the chair.  Picking up the cards so I can’t see them, she deftly determines which cards to throw to my crib.  She would rather lose points than give her opponent any. 

 

Again, I find myself watching this ninety-two year old dynamic rarity.  I recall her eighty-third birthday when I had the opportunity to ask, “Gramma, what does it feel like to be eighty-three?”

 

She smiled and softly said, “Well, I don’t really feel that different,” she paused, reflecting, “I guess I realize how much I don’t know.”  I still remember the awe I felt at that moment.  That bit of profound wisdom is so characteristic of her transcendent humility and wonder.

 

Shawn!”  Grandma barks, “Mind the game!”  She clicks the table with her fingernails.

 

Oh yeah, the game,” I smile and discard.  Can’t keep Grandma waiting.

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