Someone’s Granny

The old woman’s purse starts ringing. She digs through it. Soon, she is talking on a flip phone. She’s using a voice that’s sweet enough to spread on toast.

Cracker Barrel—I’m eating bacon and eggs. In the background: Ernest Tubb is singing about waltzing across Texas. I’ve been on an interstate all morning.

There is an old woman at a table near ours. She was here before my wife and I arrived. Her white hair is fixed up. She is wiry, wearing a nice zebra-striped Sunday blouse.

She smiles at me.

She is alone, sipping coffee. It doesn’t take long to strike up chit-chat.

She has lines on her face, and a husky voice. She is from the old world. She calls me “sweetheart” twice in the same sentence.

And even though I don’t know her, I know her type. I’ll bet she prepares chicken and dumplings that would make clergymen use the Lord’s name in vain.

She tells me that for most of her life, she’s been a mother and a wife.

Her husband died many years ago. She has two kids. A son, a daughter. She hardly sees either.

“My daughter and I are supposed to be having lunch today,” she tells me, looking at her watch. “My grandbabies should be here any second. I can’t WAIT to kiss them all.”

Those lucky grandbabies.

From what I learn, the aforementioned daughter and grandchildren lead busy lives. The grandkids stay occupied with soccer, baseball, ballet, mission trips, and various special activities that require special T-shirts.

The old girl tries to get together with them as often as she can. But schedules get in the way.

Last week, she decided to drive a few hours to attend her grandson’s soccer game. She packed her folding chair, her snacks, and arrived early.

She waited for one hour on the sidelines of an empty field. A maintenance man told her the game had been cancelled.

Nobody had told Granny.

The old woman’s purse starts ringing. She digs through it. Soon, she is talking on a flip phone. She’s using a voice that’s sweet enough to spread on toast.

“I’m already here, sweetheart,” she says into the phone. I’ve got us a table. Are you close by?”

She nods. She listens. Her smile fades. More head nodding.

“No, no, no,” she says. “Don’t apologize. We can reschedule, darling…”

She flips her phone closed, places it in her purse, and tells waitress she’s ready for her check.

“No food?” the waitress asks.

She gathers her purse and stands. “No, I’d better get moving today. I have errands.”

There is disappointment all over her. And even though I can tell she is strong enough to handle her share of disappointment, I wish she didn’t have to.

Before she leaves, she tells my wife and I to be safe on the road. She calls me sweetheart again.

I see her through the window, crawling into an old model car. The paint on her hood is chipping.

Her tail lights disappear.

It’s none of my business what sons and daughters do with their parents or grandparents. And so help me, I know what it means to be too busy.

But sometimes I wish I were fortunate enough to have my own granny alive.

I’d give anything to hear her call me sweetheart.

30 comments

  1. Connie - September 22, 2017 3:02 pm

    Unfortunately most people don’t realize the importance of our elderly people until they are gone. My mom is alive, but her essence is gone. That woman who was the best cook in three counties and was beautiful and fun and vivacious. Now she barely knows who we are. I encourage everyone to go visit your parents and grandparents before it’s too late. One day, you will regret not going. Love and hugs, sweetheart, from one (young) old grandma who is also a daughter of a Granny.

    Reply
    • Jason - September 22, 2017 3:15 pm

      Connie, unfortunately I don’t think they will regret it. If they don’t think enough of their parents and grandparents while they’re alive, they’ll just divide up the possessions (After fighting among themselves) after they’re gone and forget about them. It’s sad.

      Reply
    • Afi Scruggs - September 22, 2017 3:28 pm

      Thanks for the reminder. I’ll call my mother today.

      Reply
  2. Cathi Russell - September 22, 2017 3:06 pm

    So very true. My gran left us 8-10 years ago & her expression was “dahlin”…thick Southern accent. I hear her in my head all the time. 💖

    Reply
  3. Gordon Welch - September 22, 2017 3:07 pm

    Yes-It is sad that our children and grandchildren are “too busy” with “their lives” to spend a little time with us. And yes-how I wish I could spend a little more time with my Mom and Grandmom who are no longer here on earth. Thanks, Sean for this beautiful post today.

    Reply
  4. teachenglish67 - September 22, 2017 3:14 pm

    It is so sad today’s generation doesn’t realize how important parental and grandparental contact is. I was talking with one of my siblings years ago. Our parents and I usually talked every week—I made it a point to do that. I asked my sibling if they’d talked with them recently. They said, “I can’t afford to call them every week!” I told my sibling, “You can’t afford not to.” When I laid my parents to rest in the “stone garden”, I knew I’d done my best to let them know how important they were to me and how much I loved them.
    It does not take much time to call. Do it, because one of these days, you won’t be able to; and if you are blessed to live close, go see those special people every week, if you can.

    Reply
  5. Richard Jones - September 22, 2017 3:15 pm

    One day that Lady will be gone and her Son and Daughter will stand in front of her coffin and they will remember times like these.And they will cry……………

    Reply
    • Pat - September 22, 2017 3:36 pm

      Good post Richard!

      Reply
  6. Virginia - September 22, 2017 3:16 pm

    And this is true for most of us old folks. We wanted our kids to have everything and worked hard for it, but having everything is not the best situation. It makes them forget everything but “getting the best” for themselves.

    Reply
  7. Catherine - September 22, 2017 3:18 pm

    Sure wish I had my parents and grandparents to meet for lunch. Praying God blesses this special lady and her kids learn to spend more time with her.

    Reply
  8. Tammy - September 22, 2017 3:21 pm

    Dear Sean,
    I have to stop reading your posts at my desk at work because generally they leave me in big ugly tears! And it is not because all of them are sad, it is because they strike such a cord in me very deep. Love your vivid stories. I wish I had my grandparents too, I miss them so much!

    Reply
  9. Afi Scruggs - September 22, 2017 3:27 pm

    This is too real. I’ve been on both sides. Now I regret what I didn’t do when I could.

    Reply
  10. Kim - September 22, 2017 3:28 pm

    So happy to say that my 25 year old son and his girlfriend drove from south Alabama to North Carolina to spend a long weekend with his grandparents.

    Reply
  11. Pamela McEachern - September 22, 2017 3:32 pm

    That sets it as straight as it gets. I wish we all were smart enough to realize the important times in our lives. God’s speed on your travels.

    Reply
  12. Wendy - September 22, 2017 3:36 pm

    Somehow this reminds me of the old Bear Bryant show when he said, “Have you called your mama today? I sure wish I could call mine.”

    (Yes, showing my age.)

    Reply
  13. Jack Quanstrum - September 22, 2017 3:37 pm

    I hear ya Sean! Great story. I wish my grandmother was still alive. She taught in a one room school house in Sheboygan Falls Wisconsin her name was Zelia. She never ever was critical of me. Was so loving and supprtive. She was the person I was most relaxed around because I could be myself. Thank you Sean for stimulating that memory with your story. Shalom!

    Reply
  14. Lynda Clemons - September 22, 2017 4:27 pm

    How sad. I had the best of grandparents which inspired me to be the best gramma I could be. This relationship is a gift for all concerned.

    Reply
  15. Janet Lee - September 22, 2017 5:04 pm

    My heart breaks for this beautiful lady. I know how she feels, but thankfully not to her extent. I raised beautiful and thoughtful children, but while my daughter and I touch base every week, my son and his family are harder to spend time with. I always made time for my parents and in-laws, and my grandparents .And sometimes it was, and is hard. But oddly this generation does not seem to make it a priority anymore in the same sense. I have noticed if there is any conflict, it seems easier to just be dismissed. Many times children do not want to face what they should to make that relationship work. I do not believe in coming between man and wife, so I do not push. But to have someone willing and barely able to get to places to meet her family, as this woman, and have the love and fortitude to accomplish it, and to be shown such disregard is just rude and uncalled for. I wish she were my Mom. I did not have one from early on. Boy, I would show up every time! Prayers for this sweet lady, and thanks for noticing her, Sean.

    Reply
  16. Marty from Alabama - September 22, 2017 5:11 pm

    Grandmother, short and round and the most beautiful smile. Momma, known lovingly by her grandkids as Grannie, tall and slender and a sweet smile. Both had a problem having their kids come visit. Momma went to see Grandmother everyday, God willing. I wasn’t always where I could go due to living away. And Momma lived with us on two separate occasions. Miss them both and cherish everything they taught me. Hope I can live up to it.
    Write on, Sean,

    Reply
  17. Alice - September 22, 2017 8:23 pm

    What a moving story and so sad!again I had tears in my eyes when reading it!you are such a sweet man!God bless you

    Reply
  18. Judy Miller - September 23, 2017 1:29 am

    This is my story.

    Reply
    • teachenglish67 - September 23, 2017 3:42 am

      Dear Judy MIller,
      I am so sorry. I wish we knew each other and lived close. I have a wonderful daughter who is special needs. I know she couldn’t replace your children, but she loves to love people and make them happy. She is actually my granddaughter. My Beloved and I adopted her and her challenged brother in 2000. He passed away in 2011. She says she plans to live with me until I die. I believe she will. She would bring you so much pleasure and would enjoy being with you, if just to sit and talk.

      I truly hope your children realize what a treasure you are and fill the void they’ve created in your life.
      Peace and blessings to you.

      Reply
      • teachenglish67 - September 24, 2017 12:45 am

        My Beloved passed away in 2011, not my grandson/son.

        Reply
  19. Bobbie - September 23, 2017 2:02 am

    Sadly, this is the story for quite a few of us.

    Reply
  20. Doris Wismer - September 23, 2017 5:10 am

    I would spend every day and every minute of what is left of my life with my children and grandchildren if I could. No matter how much I see them it is never enough.

    Reply
  21. Sandi in FL - September 23, 2017 9:15 am

    Today’s story makes me weep, Sean. My adult children and my young grand-kids live in a nearby city, but they rarely ever come to visit except at Christmas, even though I have invited them numerous other times during the year. When I asked my daughter to please come more often, her reply was “It’s just too far. (It’s actually only 22 miles.). I’d go visit them more often, but they always seem to have other plans after work, especially on weekends. Trying to express how sad this makes me is like trying to explain to someone what salt tastes like.

    Reply
  22. Donna - September 23, 2017 2:17 pm

    Back when I was young and feisty (50+ years ago), I rented a room across the street from an old age home. (That’s what we called assisted living back then.) I learned a valuable lesson early as I watched every Sunday as those sweet old people would like up on the porch and wait to be picked up. More often than not, they waited in vain.

    Reply
  23. Donna - September 23, 2017 2:29 pm

    I meant to mention (but I’m old, and I forgot) about how when someone was picked up, everyone gathered around, anxious to hear something about the world outside that place. Bittersweet, yes it was.

    Reply
  24. Judy Riley - September 23, 2017 7:43 pm

    Young people just don’t realize how much it means to parents, grandparents and G-grandparents to have them drop in ….even if it just to stick their head in the door…it means so much and I do understand….I was young once…such a shame we realize these things when it’s too late…..Go buy those suspenders, Sean…..

    Reply
  25. Jen - September 23, 2017 9:53 pm

    I miss my Grandma ever so much, every single day. She wasn’t a great cook. And she couldn’t sing to save her life but those facts never stopped her from doing either. She was literally the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. Full of gracious kindness and love. I would do anything for my boys to meet her. She raised me and I am so fortunate.

    I don’t take my boys to see MY mother though. I barely speak to her. She is mean and narcissistic. If it wasn’t for my grandmother, my mother would have destroyed me. My grandmother was my savior.

    Somewhere though, my mother sits alone and people wonder where her kids and grandkids are. They will never know the truth. The pain, the drama, the abuse both physical and emotional. They will never know the neglect we were rescued from (a little bit too late).

    Reply

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