“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.


Tomorrow, her grandkids are coming to town.


  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.

    • 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.

      • 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!!

    • Cathryn - May 19, 2017 2:52 am

      Good point, Sarah! 🙂

  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.

  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!

  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.

  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.

  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.

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

    Love this piece-memories!

  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.

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

    Touched this grandma’s heart. xoxo

  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.
    Your heart.
    Healing helpers.

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

    That’s such a sweet story.

  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!”

  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.

  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.


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