“My grandkids are coming to town this week,” she says. “Wanna make sure they have enough food.”

The woman in the checkout aisle is small, white-haired. Her cart is full, mounding with Gatorade, Cheetos, and ice cream sandwiches.

I love ice cream sandwiches.

She is bent at the waist, her joints are as thin as number-two pencils. She is struggling to push her cart.

I offer to unload her buggy. She thanks me and says, “Aren’t you a sweet little Boy Scout?”

A comedian, this lady.

If I am lucky enough to see old age, I will be a comedian.

She’s out of breath, leaning on her basket. If I didn’t know any better, I’d guess her back is killing her.

“My grandkids are coming to town this week,” she says. “Wanna make sure they have enough food.”

This explains the Mountain Dew, the Goldfish, and the ice cream sandwiches.

We talk. She is friendly. No. She is perfect. Dressed to the nines, hair fixed. It is nine in the morning, she is bearing pearls and ruby lipstick.

She is the American granny. Nineteen hundred and fifty-nine, frozen in time. The kind of woman whose lifelong occupation is to keep stomachs full while wearing matching blouse and shoes.

When the cashier finishes scanning, the old woman thanks me. I offer to take her groceries to the car. She tries to pay me.

No ma’am. I’d rather sell my soul to Doctor Phil for thirty pieces of silver than take your money.

I roll her cart toward the parking lot. She holds the side. I suggest she grab my arm. She does, and for a moment, I am ten-foot tall and Kevlar.

She has an economy Ford. The trunk is tiny. I have an idea: I ask her to let me follow her home and unload her groceries.

It’s too much. Too personal, too fast. This embarrasses her.

“No thanks,” she says. “I’ll have my grandkids unload when they get here tomorrow. My grandkids, they’re visiting me tomorrow.”

You mentioned that, ma’am.

We talk more. From what I can tell, her husband died a few years ago. She’s adjusting to life on her own, and it doesn’t suit her.

There’s no reason it should.

He had pancreatic cancer. He fought like hell for a long time. He lost.

She doesn’t say it, but I know she eats suppers by herself, watches television alone, and probably sleeps funny hours.

She finishes our conversation by tapping her watch. “Gotta go,” she says. “Have a lot to do.”

But of course.

After all, she’s a busy woman. She probably has a mile-long checklist to complete before tomorrow. And I’m glad for her.

Tomorrow, her world will light up like a Christmas tree. Supper will be a main event. Tummies will be full. Her house will be alive with youth—kids will eat too many ice cream sandwiches.

The day will belong to her. So will the week. Granny will once again be what the Good Lord made her to be. Happy.

Because.

Tomorrow, her grandkids are coming to town.

25 comments

  1. Sarah Thomas - April 19, 2017 7:01 pm

    You forgot to mention that her purse also matches her shoes. It’s important. Trust me.

    Reply
    • Pat Byers - April 19, 2017 10:54 pm

      yes, that would be the case. purse to match. however, she would have called it her pocketbook.

      Reply
      • Katie Maiorano - April 29, 2017 10:39 am

        You girls know us so well……the ladies of the 50’s and 60’s!! Of course you do!! We’re your mothers and grandmothers!!
        Thank you Sean!!

        Reply
    • Cathryn - May 19, 2017 2:52 am

      Good point, Sarah! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Thressa - April 19, 2017 7:17 pm

    Thank you for your appreciation for the neat, beautiful generation of ladies that is almost extinct.
    After her generation is gone, and maybe a few of my generation, these ladies will be gone because dressing neatly (or professionally) has just about gone out of style.

    Reply
  3. Kay Keel - April 19, 2017 7:17 pm

    My 2nd grandchild was born 5 days ago on Good Friday. His big brother is nearly 2. I can hardly wait to til they are big enough to come spend a few days with Gramma and Granddaddy and eat ice cream sandwiches and goldfish!

    Reply
  4. Sam Hunneman - April 19, 2017 7:21 pm

    for one brief, fleeting moment, I thought you were gonna say, “And that’s when she whipped the 45 out of her purse and told me to move along.” So glad she didn’t. More glad she allowed you to help her out at least.

    Reply
  5. Nancy - April 19, 2017 8:34 pm

    “Nineteen hundred and fifty-nine. Frozen in time.”
    Perfection, Sean.
    I’m so glad I get to meet the people you meet. You find a story in every encounter, and it’s glorious.

    Reply
  6. Mary Schryer - April 19, 2017 8:43 pm

    Thanks again for a story that makes my heart sing. Your stories are what I look forward to most every day.

    Reply
  7. J Landreth - April 19, 2017 10:03 pm

    Love this piece-memories!

    Reply
  8. Candy Fall - April 20, 2017 1:15 am

    Less than a year ago, I moved hundreds of miles to be near my grown children, their spouses and my preschool grands. Best decision I ever made! I received a promise from the parents that Grammy’s house was off limits to their rules regarding food. I have a huge white bowl filled with their favorite treats and ice cream in the freezer. They ask for “something in that big white bowl” every time they come. I hope that one day when they are grown and I am gone the “big white bowl” graces a spot on one of their kitchen counters and they remember.

    Reply
  9. Gaynell - April 20, 2017 11:51 am

    Touched this grandma’s heart. xoxo

    Reply
  10. Lilli Ann Snow - April 20, 2017 1:40 pm

    Lord, Sean…
    You break me and remake me every dang day I read your new story.
    You put those paddles on my heart and bring it to life like it never slowed to a dull thump during slump times.
    You.
    Your heart.
    Healing helpers.
    Paddles.

    Reply
  11. Susie Munz - April 20, 2017 11:26 pm

    That’s such a sweet story.

    Reply
  12. Rebecca - April 21, 2017 6:31 pm

    My grandchildren are 6, 3, 1, and and a fourth due in July. When the oldest came along, I knew I wanted to be called “Granny.” My mama was a Granny, my Granny was a Granny and my great-Granny was, well, Great Granny. I took a bit of teasing and a little grief over wanting to be called Granny, but in my world, its the most beautiful sound ever to hear your baby running to you with arms wide open, calling, “Granny, Granny!”

    Reply
  13. Carol DeLater - April 21, 2017 9:40 pm

    I raised one of my grandsons. He just moved out. Life is slow here, I cook old people food, can’t do whatever I want to, ya, ya, ya.

    Not so much laundry to do. No dirty sock left by the other recliner. No wet footprints across the bathroom floor after showers. No getting up at 5 to be sure the alarm got him up.

    He’ll be back for visits and in the mean time we will go about our business enjoying our life like we always have and being grateful we still have our pooches.

    Reply
  14. Dora Huelsbeck - May 20, 2017 3:07 am

    My grand babies came from Dothan today to spend a couple night with their Mimi. Thank God, I am younger than the granny in your story but the best days ever are those spent with the grandchildren. They give and receive unconditional love. What could be better? Thanks for sharing these wonderful memories.

    Reply
    • Caron Lumpkin - June 14, 2017 2:19 pm

      Sean, thank you for evangelizing Southern love. Brings me to tears with emotion every morning. You are a treasure.

      Reply
  15. Cyndia Montgomery - June 14, 2017 2:26 pm

    My grandbabies live clear across the country, in California. They’re twins, a boy and a girl, and they just turned 3. My husband & I usually drive our RV out there every summer and stay a couple of months. Last year I was lucky enough to have almost four months with them. I guess that was supposed to make up for this year. Because of my hub’s chemo, we won’t be able to go till Christmas. Thank god for FaceTime.

    They’ve never been to Alabama, and they’ve never eaten Southern food. Both of those need to be rectified SOON.

    Reply
  16. Rex Hern - June 14, 2017 2:39 pm

    Thank your for sharing your heart with us and the special vision you possess, Sean. The world would be a kinder, brighter place if all men joined you in doing something that helped them get that “ten-feet tall and Kevlar” feeling more often. May God continue to bless you and use you to bless others.

    Reply
  17. Danny C Hall - June 14, 2017 3:33 pm

    Sean I’ve finished my second book , my first book (What is it with me ) is about growing up in south Alabama , raised by my granny . It’s done well in my county sells are good . My second book is coming out the end of this month , ( Down These Dirt Roads ) , writing is for me a bad habit , I’m a retired Trucker , to much time on my hands . I have a following on FB and write short stories about twice a month . Enjoy your stuff Danny C Hall

    Reply
  18. Ben Smith - June 14, 2017 4:12 pm

    Awesome. I know my wife reads your post every day.When she reads it tears will come from her eyes and run down her face thinking about her grandson hoping he well come see use soon.

    Reply
  19. Debbie - June 14, 2017 5:14 pm

    I am granny to three beautiful grandkids. I bought powdered donuts, Cheezits and grapes. This was a regular when they visited. Teenage years have begun so I have gone to the back of the line. Empty nest for the second time is worse. It is all a part of life’s great Padgett and I am so thankful I played a part.

    Reply
  20. Wyonna - June 15, 2017 5:07 am

    I’m wondering how those ice cream sandwiches are going to weather being in the car for two days.

    Reply
  21. Mary Anne Tomlinson - June 15, 2017 1:07 pm

    Sean, your stories touch my heart with tender words every time. As a Southern grandmother (I answer to Nana) your description was perfect. As my husband (Pop Pop) and I made a grocery list last night, I can assure you that there are many items on the list just for our two grands. They are away at Boy Scout and church camp this week. We miss them. But they will be back. And they will be back to our house. Always hungry. We always keep them well fed and well loved. My prayer is that when we are no longer around that they will remember all the times they came to Nana and Pop Pop’s house — and that we always had treats for them and supplied them with plenty of hugs.

    When school is in session they often stay with us after school and bring friends too. Our granddaughter throws open the pantry doors and announces to her friends…”this is what we have!” Meaning, of course, help yourselves because Nana and Pop Pop have all this just for us.

    God Bless You, Sean, for your stories. We need them. We all need some GOOD news. Come to see us when you can and I’ll feed you supper and listen to your storues. I’m in Pensacola, right off Scenic Highway.

    Reply

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