The Granny

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. Grandma 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 grandmother. 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 buggy’s 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.”

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 odd 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.

26 comments

  1. lisa murray trainer - February 16, 2020 6:19 am

    This sounds like my Grandmother. My grandparents practically raised me and my aches because I miss them so much!

    Reply
  2. Sandi. - February 16, 2020 7:17 am

    Children are an investment, but grandchildren are the dividends!

    Reply
  3. Carol - February 16, 2020 11:42 am

    Love this!

    Reply
  4. Jo Ann - February 16, 2020 12:53 pm

    Her grandchildren probably don’t realize how lucky they are to still have their grandma around to spoil them. Don’t so many of us wish to have a little time again with our grandparents?

    Reply
  5. Ruth whitten - February 16, 2020 1:22 pm

    We definitely had one of these and there was always fried chicken waiting on the stove when we got there after an almost 6 hr drive from N. Ala. to the Florida panhandle!!!

    Reply
  6. Sandi. - February 16, 2020 1:27 pm

    Hi Jo Ann,
    Oh, yes indeed, I’d hitchhike across the country to spend time with my dear grandparents again! They were wonderful people, all four of them.

    Reply
  7. Shelton A. - February 16, 2020 1:56 pm

    Such are the things that make grandparents happy. God bless you, grandma, and you, Sean, for sharing.

    Reply
  8. Marge - February 16, 2020 2:07 pm

    This one hits really close to home. Grandma of 7 and great grandma of 2. Husband gone ( pancreatic cancer), eat in front of the tv and wishing it was still 1960. Jesus is my constant companion now. Thankful for His presence.

    Reply
  9. Sharon Brock - February 16, 2020 2:55 pm

    Thank you from this Granny and those of us everywhere.

    Reply
  10. Dawn Bratcher - February 16, 2020 3:22 pm

    Happy day! Today is a day full of good food, chaos, & love! I am thrilled for her and I hope they all realize how special she is!

    Reply
  11. Gloria Knight - February 16, 2020 3:39 pm

    Grandmothers are a gift from God. She knew who I was the morning she at died age 102, holding my hand. She outlived her husband, both sons, 2 daughters-in- law and all her siblings. My brother & I were so blessed having her in our lives for so many years. I miss her so very much.

    Reply
  12. Edna Barron - February 16, 2020 4:01 pm

    Awesome story! You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  13. Mary T - February 16, 2020 4:01 pm

    I had a baby when I was 40 years old. I started praying that his grandparents would live long enough for him to remember them, and they did. I am 73 now and I’m praying that my husband and I live long enough for our two grandbabies to remember us.

    Reply
  14. Linda Moon - February 16, 2020 4:43 pm

    ….so very happy for her! And you are so very kind for noticing her and sharing her story with us readers, Sean.
    I love comedians of any age, and I hope you reach old age and become one!

    Reply
  15. Connie Havard Ryland - February 16, 2020 4:58 pm

    Sweet sweet column today. I remember my mom when the grands were coming from out of town to stay with her. And when the ones who lived near her “ran away” to Granny’s house. She was their refuge and their safe place. She loved them all but she was never anybody’s idea of a classic grandma. Lol. When dementia took her away from them, it totally broke their hearts. Cherish your grandparents. They are gone too soon.

    Reply
  16. Debbie Harbin Hining - February 16, 2020 8:27 pm

    I Love this! Grandchildren grow up a lot faster than your children did! ( I speak from experience!) This lady is a smart Grandmother to buy her sweet babies some of their favorites. You’re a very sweet guy to help her load her car! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  17. Jess - February 16, 2020 9:10 pm

    Sandi, I like your comment. It makes a lot of sense.

    Reply
  18. Ginger Clifton - February 16, 2020 9:49 pm

    Got a solicitation from Alzheimer’s group that reads, “Grandma doesn’t know me anymore.” Today in many cases it could read, “My grandchildren do not know me anymore.” Often parents are too busy to bring them, and they grow up thinking that it is not very important, this family thing. My older sister was in the nursing home, and I observed so many lonely old ones with children and grandchildren who never seemed to get around to a visit. Thank YOU for being kind and caring.

    Reply
  19. Debra Loftin - February 17, 2020 12:28 am

    Beautiful.♥️ Brought wonderful memories of my own Granny and tears to my eyes.

    Reply
  20. Joan has - February 17, 2020 2:33 am

    That’s what grandmothers do best, feed them with love! Wish I could eat with mine now. Love this story

    Reply
  21. Sandi. - February 17, 2020 7:18 am

    Thank-you, Jess, and have an abundantly blessed week ahead!

    Reply
  22. Willia - February 17, 2020 9:00 pm

    That sounds so much like my Mama…shes from Pulaski, Giles Co. Tn…she wouldnt go to the mailbix without her lipstick on and hair fixed…she dressed like that even if she was “puttin up corn for the freezer” ….thank you for being good to that sweet little lady….theyre a rare breed now days… Dan Barlar, Clarksville, Tenn
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  23. Dan Barlar - February 17, 2020 9:01 pm

    That sounds so much like my Mama…shes from Pulaski, Giles Co. Tn…she wouldnt go to the mailbix without her lipstick on and hair fixed…she dressed like that even if she was “puttin up corn for the freezer” ….thank you for being good to that sweet little lady….theyre a rare breed now days… Dan Barlar, Clarksville, Tenn
    Show quoted text

    Reply
  24. PETRA MCDANIEL - March 11, 2020 5:50 pm

    The ice cream sandwiches will melt when Grandma leaves the groceries in the car! Hello!

    Reply
  25. Ann - March 22, 2020 8:59 am

    I know how she feels…WE love having the excitement of family arriving…..❤️🥰

    Reply
  26. Hazel Barber - March 22, 2020 10:02 am

    Single mom I had to work but my mother lived next door and took over raising my son for me during the day. He loved her better than anyone until she passed. He was at Ole Miss when I called to tell him she was gone. I’ll never forget the words he said, “Mother, we just lost our best friend.” Thanks for the memories Sean!
    Hazel from Huntsville.

    Reply

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