Our yearly trips to see Great Grandma have always been bittersweet. From the time the children were very young, we have told them to savor each visit, since the frail and feeble relative would probably be going to meet Jesus very soon.
That was four presidents ago.
Today, at age 95, Grandma has outlived two husbands, numerous suitors, and every major appliance in her house. And the only way she’ll meet Jesus is if he shows up at her nursing home with a deck of cards and some pocket change he doesn’t mind losing.
This year she greeted us with two questions: "Who are you?" and "Did you bring any beer?" After patiently explaining our identities (her reply: "Suit yourself"), we began the most important task at hand: cleaning out her purse. Aside from card-playing, Grandma’s other pastime is sneaking food from the dining room, which she apparently does just for sport, since she never actually eats the donuts and creamers that we find mingled with the rosaries, rubber bands, and old get-well cards from people concerned about her health. (Grandma always gets better and later attends most of their funerals.)
Grandma has lived in three nursing homes in the last 10 years, each change prompted by management that felt she’d "be much happier elsewhere." The real reason, of course, is that other residents don’t appreciate the little "whoop whoop" sound she makes every time she lays down her cards and reminds them that they probably shouldn’t have skipped their nap that day.