56: Forever Young

56: Forever Young

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Forever Young

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves — in finding themselves.

~André Gide

Grandma was a Disney guru. Having worked as a restaurant greeter in the Magic Kingdom as a “retirement gig,” she knew all the rides, theme parks and insider information that added to the magical experience of Disney. Armed with an arsenal of Disney knowledge and an uncanny ability to beat the long lines, Grandma gave two of my brothers and me a Disney experience that has been etched in our memories.

Even though we were all in our early twenties, Brian, Eric and I were excited to spend the day with Grandma at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Although she was in her seventies, Grandma navigated the crowds swiftly as my brothers and I tried to keep up.

We arrived in the morning, just as the theme park opened its doors for the day. Grandma led the way and headed toward the popular rides to scope out the wait times. She had done this before, and we were speedwalking toward the park’s newest ride: the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.

“Hurry up,” Grandma said as we approached the line. “The wait isn’t bad right now — forty minutes. It’s only going to get longer as the day goes on.”

For us, the forty-minute wait seemed reasonable, so we hopped in line while Grandma held our hats and sunglasses and waited for us at the ride’s exit. The estimated wait time was right on target, and we got our adrenaline rush and were ready for the next ride, which Grandma had already scoped out.

“The wait time for Tower of Terror is only twenty minutes,” Grandma said. “Let’s go do that now.”

Wait, did she mean “let’s” as in “let us?”

“Gram, are you going on this one with us?” we asked.

Without even batting an eye, Grandma simply nodded her head and off we went. As we made our way through the line, we could see the camera flashes at the top. Now that we knew where to pose for the souvenir photo, we made a plan. We would make the Home Alone face with one hand on each cheek and our mouths open in horror. That was the plan anyway.

Things went awry once we actually got on the ride. With our safety belts holding us in place, we could feel the ride bringing us up, nearly 200 feet into the air. We held our hands to our cheeks as the doors opened to the outside and the ride made its first accelerated drop. The cameras flashed and we knew we had a hilarious souvenir-worthy photo.

“Let’s look for our picture,” I said as we exited the ride. “We had the pose timed perfectly.”

Well, three out of four isn’t bad. Grandma braved the ride, with an ear-to-ear grin, but she couldn’t quite go hands-free. She clutched the safety bar as she giggled like a child each time the elevator descended.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this photo was about one word: love. Grandma would go to any lengths (or heights) for her family.

~Sarah McCrobie

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