Grandma H and I always have the weirdest conversations. Case in point, I get in her car and mention, “This seat is all screwed up.”
She says, “You know why? We had to put Russ’s wheelchair in the backseat.”
“Because he’s dead.”
I’m confused why does his dying require her to put the wheelchair in her car? I must have missed something. “But why did you get his wheelchair?”
“Because he’s dead.”
“His wife gave it to me at the hairdressers since she had it in her car.”
“BECAUSE HE’S DEAD.”
“Do you get all dead people’s wheelchairs?”
She sighs. “No it was ours and we loaned it to him.”
“You kinda left that part out of the story.”
“Oh, well that’s why.”
“So, to clarify, you don’t collect dead people’s wheelchairs?”
She laughs. “No.”
Grandma H announces on the way to IHOP, “I’m not really hungry. I ate some chicken.”
“But you knew we were going to breakfast,” I whine.
“I got up early. I was hungry.”
“You remember those three pancakes I got last time?”
“Yup.” Where is she going with this?
“I want one pancake. That’s it. You tell the waitress.”
“I’ll do my best.”
Luckily, when we get there, I find the Rooty Senior which is one pancake, one egg, one bacon and one sausage. She’s thrilled.
Grandma H and I finish lunch at IHOP and she announces, “I want to go to the cemetery to see my mom and sisters.”
I agree. Partly cause I don’t want her going alone and partly cause I like cemeteries.
We turn off the main road and inch down the gravel driveway. Trees loom around us.
Suddenly, Grandma says, “If someone come out of the woods, I want you to run to the car and lock yourself in.”
My jaw drops.
She continues, “Don’t worry about me. I’ve lived a long life. You have to save yourself.”
My heart thrums in my ears. “Uh, I thought we were going to the cemetery to visit loved ones. Why are you casting me in a Lifetime movie?”
Then when we park, I say, “Let’s lock the car.”
She agrees and puts her keys around her neck.
I shake my head. “Great. Now I have to save you since you’ve got the keys.”
We walk to the gravestones and talk to her sisters a bit. She tells them how she misses them.
My favorite moment is when we turn to her parents grave and she exclaims, “She was the best mother in the world.” She says this with absolute conviction three times.
I ask, “What about your dad?”
“He was okay.”
We end with a macabre discussion of how she wants to be cremated and slip away. No wake. No funeral. No gawkers. Then she explains how she wants the family to gather together to drink a glass of wine and say something nice about her. Her wish is to have her ashes spread in the ocean, but she said the kids can hang onto them for a while if they want.
This brings me to the brink of tears.
I know everyone has to die. But it’s sad to contemplate the death of someone sitting right next to you.
I suggested dividing up the ashes so all the kids get a piece of her. She doesn’t think they want that. Some people have no clue how much they are treasured.