Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sometimes Inappropriate Laughter is the Best Medicine

I first met Eric’s grandmother shortly after we started dating. Eric lived in a little trailer house that sat on her property. It had housed his uncle, his aunt, and now he was living there rent-free while he went to school. It was her way of helping him through college. I moved in a couple of years later.

When I met Vera she was fiercely independent. She mowed her own lawn, hauled firewood, and generally kicked ass at life. I have pictures of her hauling lumber when we were building a doghouse. She would proudly tell you about the time that her and Eric’s grandfather owned rent houses. The tenants would call about problems and then be surprised to see her there to fix them. They always seemed surprised to have a woman show them up at home repair. It would have been plausible to me if she muttered “pussy” over her shoulder as she walked away while grabbing her nonexistent testicles. Ok, she was a devote Catholic so maybe not that plausible, but she was the kind of woman that could have pulled that off if she was ever so inclined.

We tried to do odd jobs and help out to earn our keep so to speak. I remember the time she asked me to help her paint her bedroom. I arrived bright and early at the crack of 10am. When I arrived in the room she was standing paint bucket and brush in hand with two walls already painted a pale shade of pink.

“We need to move that dresser,” she said matter-of-factly.

It was a heavy oak dresser. I knew this was the moment I was going to redeem myself for arriving late. I knew I would move that dresser much like I knew at 5 years old that I could fly if I just concentrated hard enough. And much like my 5-year-old self lying on the couch willing myself to fly like Superman, that dresser didn’t budge.

“I’ll get it,” she said ramming her 82-year-old hip into the end and muscling it away from the wall. Nothing will make you more ready to lay down some serious cash on a late night infomercial Thigh Master like being bested by a geriatric hip.

These days, she is not quite the brick house I knew her to be.  Vera recently suffered a stroke that has left her left side virtually paralyzed. She is now recovering in a skilled nursing facility. She’s had good days and not so good days.

We’ve been visiting her frequently. Last time we sat with her while she ate dinner. We came straight after karate and the kids were still in the gis. The lady that usually sits to Vera’s right is always quiet and never says a word. This evening, she actually nodded off. Kenzie seemed fascinated by her. She leaned over to me, never taking her eyes off of her.

“Momma,” she said in a stage whisper.
“What, Kenzie?”
“Did she died?”

Thank you Kenzie for coming through with a well-timed and wholly inappropriate laugh during this tough time.


  1. Devout Catholics are not afraid of well-timed f-bombs and other foul language. We just (try) not to say the Lord's name in vain. ;) Vera sounds awesome.

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