Lunch with Grandma

Lunch with Grandma

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

Lunch with Grandma

Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.

~Victor Hugo

Although uncertain, unprepared and unaware of the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease, I headed to Charlotte to help Mom care for Grandma. With my usual upbeat, positive attitude, I rose the first morning full of enthusiasm and knowing exactly what to do, or so I thought.

But before my first cup of coffee, I entered the bathroom to find Grandmother attempting to brush her teeth with a razor. Shocked and near hysterics, I yelled for my mother while trying to retrieve the razor without hurting Grandmother or myself. Mom quietly walked into the room, confiscated the razor and took control with a smile and what looked like an invisible tear. Tears were many as the day went on. The “tuff one,” as I had been called, had met her match.

A few days passed and I became more confident as Mom and I realized that Grandma did things born of habit. So we began playing on her habits — messing up the living room so she could straighten up again and again, assigning her the chore of sweeping the porch, and washing unbreakable plates and cups as I dried them and put them away.

My confidence grew. I decided to take Grandma to lunch, just the two of us. Against mother’s better judgment, I decided to take her to a steakhouse with a salad bar, so Grandma could pick out what SHE wanted to eat.

Riding to the restaurant was no problem; she just loved these new-fangled vehicles. Happily, we entered the steakhouse, got our plates, and ventured to the salad bar. But Grandmother didn’t know what anything was, not even a roll. She refused to eat anything except the pretty “red stuff” that wiggled. Finally, with only gelatin on her plate, we sat down and had a wonderful lunch. She swirled the good “red stuff” around in her mouth, thoroughly enjoying herself.

All of a sudden, she grabbed my arm and yanked me to the floor, pulling me under the table. I was too shocked to scream. I took her arm and gently coaxed her to stand, but she clutched my arms with a surprising strength and jerked me back to the floor. “Indians!” she cried out. “We must escape!”

Trying desperately to understand, I said, “Where are the Indians?”

Frightened, she pointed to a group of people that had just entered the restaurant. Then she started crawling on the floor, dragging her purse behind and motioning me to follow her.

“Come on!” she commanded, her irritation and my embarrassment mounting.

What the heck, I thought, swallowing any pride I had left. I crept behind her between and under empty tables, making our way through the great Wild West toward the salad bar. Once we arrived safely, she pulled me toward her and said, “That way to the door! We can make it,” she said. “Be brave!”

Off we went in a fast crawl, her in her dress, me in cut-off blue jeans, both of us dragging a purse and turning our heads from side to side as we went. She was looking for danger and I was looking to see who was staring. Just when we were getting close to the door, the manager came from behind the counter. Terrified, Grandma flung herself over my body to protect me.

The manager gazed down at the two of us piled in a heap on the floor and asked, “Can I help you ladies?”

I burst out laughing. Grandma pulled herself up and bent over to help me since I was laughing so hard I couldn’t stand. She brushed me off and asked me, “Are you okay, honey?”

The confused manager asked the obvious question. “Is anything wrong?”

“Of course, everything is quite all right,” Grandma said, “now that you are here, Marshall Dillon.”

Grandma pulled me to the door as I laughed. Once she got there, she turned back to the manager and said, “I’m sorry, sir, we forgot to pay.” She took a dime out of her purse and placed it on the counter.

“Thank you, ma’am,” he said and gave her a big smile.

By now I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe. My grandmother gripped my arm and jerked me toward the door. “We have to get out of here, Teri,” she said. “You’re embarrassing me.”

~Teri Batts

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