Keeping Gramma Company


Freshly home from hospital following day surgery, I am nestled in bed surrounded by pillows and tissues and cups of tea, and just dozing off when the doorbell rings.

“Hallooooo…????” It is my daughter, dropping by to prepare dinner for my husband and me. And look—she has brought her six-year old daughter to keep me company!

“Gwamma, is your body sore?” she inquires as she scrambles up onto the bed. (Yes. Ouch! No bouncing!) “Don’t worry, I am here to cheer you up. What would you like to do first, Gwamma?” (Ummm… Nap…??? I think, wistfully.)

She is full of ideas. I rule out the ones that involve moving, talking, and thinking. Aha! She has it! We will have a picture-drawing contest.

She scrambles off the bed (ouch!) and returns with my white board and the four markers that have survived the ravages of her male cousins: red, orange, blue, and brown. I generously insist she go first, hoping for a few moments of shut-eye during the creative process. Unfortunately, the creative process is not silent. There are questions. Where are my pink and yellow and green and purple markers? Was my doctor the same one who fixed her daddy’s knees a few weeks ago? Which do I like better, cats or dogs? And could I not possibly BELIEVE what happened to her at kindergarten this morning…?

I pretend to answer while she draws an orange cat and a brown cat with word balloons coming out of their mouths. The cats are saying “I love you” to each other. She tells me that I am the orange cat, and she is the brown cat. In the margin she has printed the words “To you. Love from Maysa.” (She explains that there wasn’t room to write “To Gramma” without running into a cat.)

While I am admiring the picture, she is called away to eat her snack. I have just settled into a somnolent state when I hear a small sigh at my bedside. It is my granddaughter, looking quite subdued. She has been thinking deep thoughts.

“Gwamma, I am not sure what happened, but this is what I fink happened. I fink the doctor made a little hole in your body, and reached in and pulled out all the bad stuff, and sewed up the hole. Is dat what happened?”

“Close enough, my dear.”

She vaults back onto the bed (ouch) and snuggles beside me, while I draw a picture of a brown-haired little girl in a red dress holding a blue-and-orange striped balloon.

Her mommy says it’s time to go.

“Gwamma, is your body still sore?”

“Yes, my dear.”

She considers this. “Well, I want to give you a hug. Are there any parts of you that are safe for me to hug?”

We find one.

It is the next afternoon, and I am cozily arranged on the family room couch, surrounded by pillows and tissues, indulging in chocolate therapy, and binge-watching “Outlander” on Netflix, when the doorbell rings.

“Hallooooo…????” It is my daughter, who has come to clean my house, fold my laundry, and make sure her father and I don’t starve to death. Somehow our roles have been reversed and my 38-year old darling is calling me “young lady,” and plumping up my pillows, and bringing me food I don’t want, and proffering painkillers I don’t need. Finally satisfied, she leaves the room, exhorting me to “rest.” Fat chance. Maysa has come along to keep me company.

So we snuggle side by side on the family room couch, and eat my snack, and talk about this and that. She sighs deeply. Her cute little nose wrinkles, indicating deep thought. She has more questions about my surgery, and her daddy’s recent knee operation.

“Okay Gwamma, dis is what bothers me. I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. How do doctors KNOW how to fix people? I mean, when doctors look at you, dey can’t see inside you. So just how do dey KNOW what to do?”

My mind—still wauchlin’ hame wi’ Jamie Fraser o’er the misty hills of 1743 Scotland—snaps back to the present. “Um… x-rays. They take pictures of people’s insides. You remember when you were little and broke your leg?”

She considers this. “But I still don’t get it. How…”

“Scientists.” I am paddling madly away from the murky waters of vivisection. “Scientists, um, figure things out. And…try things to see if they work.”

More considering. The light dawns. “And den the scientists fix the people?”

“Er… Yes. Well, no. See, there are not nearly enough scientists to go around, so the scientists, um, teach people to be doctors. In special doctor schools. In fact, because there is so much to learn about fixing people, they have to go to doctor school for SEVEN WHOLE YEARS!”

She is impressed. I’m on a roll.

“And that’s not all! You see, scientists are always finding out NEW ways to fix people, so doctors have to keep on learning THEIR WHOLE LIVES!” I pause for breath, and wait for the next question, but she seems satisfied.

We finish our snack and resume our drawing contest. She colours the entire white board blue and draws two little fish with word bubbles coming out of their mouths. The fish are saying “I love you” to each other. I am the brown fish and she is the orange fish. Now it’s my turn to draw, and I am racking my brain for a subject when her mommy rescues me. It’s time for them to go.

“Gwamma, is your body still sore?”

“Yes, my dear.”

“Is that one part still safe to hug?”

“Why don’t we find out?”

It is.

Jacqui Graham
Jacqui Graham
Jacqui Graham has six grown kids and eight delightful grandkids age 6 months to 11 years. If she had known how much fun grandkids would be, she would have had them first!