The Granny Hook

The Granny Hook

From Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul

The Granny Hook

The events of our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order . . . the continuous thread of revelation.

Eudora Welty

In looking back upon it now, I believe it was sheer attitude when I confronted our grandchildren at various times and in various settings after an accident in which I lost my arm in 1993. It was essential that everyone, especially the twelve grands, feel perfectly comfortable around me. A good deal of this rested with their very loving and savvy parents. After all, their granny wasn’t all that different. I hadn’t suddenly sprouted two granny heads. The surgeons had done an admirable job remodeling my granny face and most of my granny ear, and as it turned out, children handled the granny makeover so much better than friends. I thought it remarkable.

Our youngest daughter, Katie, was a marvel. She had organized a soapbox regatta and neighborhood picnic at her lake home some six hundred miles from our Montana ranch. Because of my artsy ways and her dad’s building skills, she informed me that the children had elected us to design and build a vessel from any scraps we could uncover in her garage and basement. It was a mere one month after a final prosthesis fitting, but I was so happy to be amongst the living, we quickly accepted the invitation.

Our darling grandkids greeted us that Friday night as we’ve never been greeted before. They giggled and laughed over my prosthetic clumsiness and wasted no time christening me “Granny Hook.” I loved it. At bedtime there appeared four inquisitive onlookers who seemed fascinated watching me wrestle with shoes and zippers, buttons and earrings. They insisted upon helping and were dying to see how the new bunglesome and awkward contraption worked. After donning pj’s I invited everyone in, and we had “Prosthesis 101” in the fine art of wearing and managing a hook with various attachments.

The next morning I showed up at breakfast wearing what I like to call my “go to meetin’” myoelectric arm complete with a soft rubber hand and painted fingernails. By flexing my muscles against electrodes inside the fitted arm, I could make the wrist turn back and forth and even around and around. This was a first major effort for me; I needed more practice but I made a huge hit. The girls were eager to begin showing Granny Hook off to the neighborhood and begged us to stay longer for their class show-and-tells. Maybe another time.

By mid-morning my “farm-and-ranch” hook was ready to go to work looking for building scraps. After gathering odds and ends of planks, inner tubes and a sheet for a sail, our pirate ship began to take shape. Somehow Papa anchored an eight-foot piece of PVC pipe for a mast at the bow, the kids painted a skull and crossbones on the flag, cut out black-paper eye-patches and appropriately painted all our faces. With the swing of a well-targeted plastic water bottle, the creation was christened “The Granny Hook.” There was nary a breath of air for sailing so the boys found light pieces of wood for paddles, desplintering the ends with duct tape.

As the afternoon wore on, any number of crazy looking homemade vessels appeared at water’s edge. Lavishly decorated one-man inner tubes seemed to populate the beach in great quantity. We wondered if our big cumbersome raft would be sluggish in the water. Nonetheless, the voyagers donned life jackets, and Captain Granny Hook hitched up her arm a notch and climbed aboard just behind the mainsail while the eye-patched maties were hoisted aboard from behind.

As we sat amongst the flotilla bobbing up and down in the water, it occurred to me that my husband, my daughter, my son-in-law and his dear folks still had confidence in my life-saving skills (arm or no arm) to entrust me with our four precious kids in the middle of a lake. It was a handicap moment in my life I’ll not forget.

At last the whistle sounded and all were off like a herd of turtles, some happily capsizing and sinking ten feet from shore. We lagged behind until Captain Hook coached the crew to commence rapid rhythmic paddling. The Granny Hook picked up knots just before the halfway buoy but lost big water in the turn. Three ships now led, and our rhythmic paddlers were tiring. It would not be enough to win. What to do? What to do? In timely fashion the captain shouted an “abandon ship” order, and the crew reluctantly slipped over the side to hang onto the back and kick their hearts out.

The Granny Hook barely overtook the fleet and she won!

That glorious weekend was the beginning of many regattas on Katie’s lake.

Kathe Campbell

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