Outing with Gram

Outing with Gram

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

Outing with Gram

If nothing is going well, call your grandmother.

Italian Proverb

The sight of our fourteen-year-old grandson Dave being violently sick from his first round of chemotherapy is one I will never forget. That single snapshot in time hovered like a dark cloud, even though his mom later found a remedy to control the nasty side effects. It represented the reality of an unexpected diagnosis—cancer in his right leg. He was home now between chemos, and today was my day with Dave.

A husky about-to-be freshman, Dave’s precancer interests had focused entirely on sports and activity. How, I wondered, would I find something to do on this cool fall day with a young man on crutches, weakened and tired but still game for his turn to spend a day with Grandma? All past outings and ideas were scratched due to his limited strength. We would have to find something to do for an hour or two before returning home for medication. I was baffled.

Even when I saw Dave’s eager glance as his mom knelt to tie the shoe on his splint-protected leg, I had no clue what we would do. I prayed frantically for an idea, wondering, What do teenage boys like Dave like to do? All eight grandkids had enjoyed my past spontaneity, but this time I felt hollow.

Then, just as Dave stood and asked, “What are we going to do today, Gram?” it came. Cars! Boys like cars!

“It’s a surprise, Dave,” I smiled, now calm. “I think you will enjoy this.”

We drove to Highway 20, which is lined with car dealers. Pausing expectantly before we turned onto the street, he eyed me. “So, Dave, see any cars you want to test drive?” Widened eyes and a happy smirk were my answer. He quickly chose a Cadillac, and we swung into their lot and parked.

A number of steps led to the office, so Dave waited while I went inside. My nephew Kenny calls me “General D” when I get this determined, and I chuckled as I climbed the steps, wishing I’d called ahead. Fortunately our arrival was at a quiet moment, and the salesman who greeted me was also a grandparent. A brief explanation that I was in no position to actually purchase a car but was requesting a ride for my grandson produced a hearty welcome.

“No problem,” said the kindly salesman, who came out and greeted Dave eagerly. “I think I have an idea which car you’d be interested in,” he said, pointing out a blue sporty model. A responsive grin, followed by the first of many sighs of “Sweet!” indicated full agreement.

Our butter-smooth ride through town was highlighted when Dave suggested we go by the house and show the family what we had “found.” Everyone oohed and ahhed over the features, and his siblings hinted recklessly for their next outing. After returning the Cadillac and giving profuse thanks, we returned home for Dave’s medication. His eighteen-year-old brother Mike greeted him with, “After that, what will you do this afternoon—test drive a Hummer?”

“Yeah,” Dave laughed, adding, “in my dreams.”

I tore out of their house before I heard any more. The day was half over. Could it be done? I raced to my house and the Internet, punching in “Hummer.” A yelp of joy brought my husband running. There was a dealership only forty minutes away! I called with trepidation and explained this time that I not only was not in the market to buy the vehicle, I couldn’t even test-drive it.

“Come on in!” laughed the enthusiastic manager.

Dave was ready to go a few minutes later, eagerly wondering where we were going next. “A surprise in a half hour,” was all I could trust myself to say, and we chatted about the Cadillac ride and other cars he thought were “sweet.”

The final exit was on a hill and the Hummer showroom was visible at the bottom. “You didn’t!” he said, gazing at me a moment and then back at the yellow and black signage. “I don’t believe it.”

In awe, we walked up the ramp to the futuristic building. Two men stood dwarfed behind massive glass doors, which apparently allowed the gigantic vehicles to be driven out. The manager and a salesman, Mike, greeted us and gave Dave the royal treatment, including a tour, history of the Hummer and a look inside both standard and luxury models before going outside for a ride.

Our guess that the erect, crew-cut salesman had been a serviceman was confirmed as he guided us to the silver Hummer he’d purchased after military use. Gallantly hoisting Grandma in the back, they circled the Hummer admiringly and then climbed in to inspect and discuss every minutia, from the “rotating gun” atop the vehicle to every dial and engine part. I am usually bored with such guy stuff, but time flew as I watched Dave’s grin broaden time and again. When Mike asked, “Are you ready for a ride?” Dave turned, and I knew the look he flashed me would hold a lifetime of memories.

Oh, what a ride! Several times Mike or Dave glanced back and inquired if Grandma was doing okay. Gripping the seat stiffly, I did not enjoy riding up—or down—what felt like ninety-degree hills. But I was there for Dave and squeaked out, “Fine,” to their chuckles, as Mike drove over and through every imaginable obstacle and finished with a road test on the freeway!

Later, buckling up to head home, I marveled at the answer to my prayer. An exhausted Dave placed his souvenirs and crutches in the back and tilted his seat for a rest. The quiet ride home was broken a few minutes later with a sleepy chuckle and music to a grandmother’s ears. “You’ll never be able to top this, Gram. . . . It was a Hummer of a day!”

Delores Christian Liesner

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