Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: At Wit’s End (02/13/14)
TITLE: Grammy Bridget's Rocking Chair Wit Will Never End
By Lillian Rhoades
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We came as often as we could to visit Grammy Bridget. And she always greeted us from the padded, overstuffed rocking chair that only stopped squeaking while she napped. Grammy Bridget couldn't move very fast, but she was quick to respond to, “Hi, Grammy, how ya doing today?” with her special brand of wit. And for those of us who loved her, the response, though always the same, could never be viewed as a broken record that needed to be changed.
In fact, hearing her say, “Oh, I'm just living the life of O'Reilly” over and over again never ceased to charm us because that was the name she took on when she married Grandpa Willie. Not that she had any thought of changing the phrase, no more than she gave thought to changing her name.
That was Grammy Bridget, our Grammy, who chose to make light of her twilight years.
I remember the last time the family gathered at her home. Tommy Jr.,my youngest, had been warned not to roll his eyes should Grammy decide to repeat one of her favorite lines. I shot him a menacing glance when she began her traditional Thanksgiving prayer with:
“You know you're growing old when no place in your body can claim to be wrinkle-free. Now, let's pray!”
When dessert time rolled around, and my husband, Tommy Sr., was on his second hunk of apple pie, Grammy turned her Irish eyes directly towards him.
“You know you're growing old when you cook for one, but you look like you've been eating for two.”
It took weeks before Tommy Sr. stopped asking me if he “looked old?”
Dinner over, we sat around chatting while the younger set played games. Maybe it was because we had to speak louder to Grammy Bridget, but just as we were about to leave, she beckoned to Tommy Jr., who shot a "here we go again" glance in my direction.
“Come near me, Tommy child. You know you're growing old when you have to repeat what you thought you heard and still get it wrong." When pushed, Tommy Jr. knew how to pretend. I gave him a thumb's up.
Several months before she died, I stopped by on my way from work. The sweater she wore looked bigger than normal, her swollen ankles hung over the edge of her slippers, and the index finger she held high to get my attention trembled as she shook it in my direction.
“You know what I don't like about being old is not having to worry about growing old.” There IS gold in the golden years, but I'm too tired to dig for it.”
Quickly and without warning, hearing Grammy Bridget's witticisms came to an abrupt end. The stroke that in the end kept her bed-ridden had also stolen her ability to speak. Several months after her stroke, she died peacefully while asleep
Bur death of loved ones cannot steal our memories, or their influence on our lives.
As I get closer to keeping my date with the Golden Years, I often reflect back to what I dubbed as Grammy's Rocking Chair Wit. And when I'm wondering where in the world is that “safe place” that guards my extra set of keys, but remains hidden from me, I remember Grammy Bridget.
“You know you're growing old when you put something away for safe-keeping, and by the time you find it, you forget you were looking for it.”
Or, when I peek in at my newest grandchild, who is fast asleep and not caring that it's mid-day, and remember Grammy Bridget when she poked fun at herself for, “sleeping like a baby, except at night.”
Each of us carries in our hearts what we remembered most about her, but there was one thing we all hold closer than all other of the things she left behind - her witty assault on aging. She never cared much for growing old, so she poked fun at it every chance she got. If there is such a thing as cantankerous humor, then Granny was an expert at it. Even her O'Reilly line had a smidgeon of sarcasm served with a scoop of jest.
Now that she's in heaven, she'll never have to care about growing old. But I'll bet you anything she's entertaining angels.
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