Gramma fell two nights ago and broke three ribs. She is 96, now. Mom explains that she is getting worse as the days go on… I love this woman more than I can express… I am asking for your energies to ease her pain in her struggle…
I wrote this about her almost 8 years ago now…
Baking Cookies from Itch
Gramma likes to shake when she laughs. She says that it makes her feel more alive, and being alive is important to her.
Mama calls you Bee, Gramma Bee, the Bernie. You call me Rachel, Anna, Mary, and Jessica before you remember that I am Dinah. But you never have forgotten “that time when I was watching you, oh you must have been just barely a hair over six, while your Mother was away at college. You were just the durndest gal, Dinah, we were baking cookies. Oooh, and you just loved to help me bake—chocolate chips, sugar cookies, you didn’t like those oatmeal raisins, you said they were too yucky.”
And then you laughed, Gramma, because you knew I just wanted to eat the chocolate chips, not raisins, out from the batter when you weren’t looking. You shake before you continue, eyes lost in blindness and your recollection. “We would bake for hours, and you thought it was the neatest, no! the ‘coolest’ thing, that we mixed all the ingredients ourselves. Even the frosting—which you only ate if I told you it wasn’t cream cheese frosting. Oh that was a day! Your Mother came home, oh must’ve been right near dinner time. You didn’t eat your roast beef, you fell asleep on the chair just bawling, Dinah. Just bawling to beat hell, I tell ya. But when you heard the front door squeak open, you just jumped up on all four, on your two feet, and went to your Mother and gave her a good squeeze, like I had punished you by feeding you beef.”
I remember that, Gramma, you told me I couldn’t leave the dinner table until I finished my beef. But it was too dry. I thought I was being smart, falling asleep at the table and not breaking your rules. It hurt my back, but to see you shaking in anger if I got up would have hurt me more. “And you know what your Mother asked you soon as you stopped squeezing, she asked ‘what in the world you had done with Gramma, today’ and you shook with such excitement, forgetting that there beef incident, just gleeful as all as you answer,”
Gramma likes to tell the story of my childhood blunder over the confusion of ‘scratch’ and ‘itch.’ She shutters with delight and her face twists into smiles I know can just feel bursting with that pride. A pride that only a grandmother can know for her grandchild, one that rings straight from the heart and contorts every feature of her body. We both twitter when we get to her favorite part of the memory—“Mommy, g’wamma and me, we made cookies! We made the cookies from ITCH!”
Gramma’s pig-valve heart transplant is leaking and she is making her final life and death situation to attempt another shaky surgery. Eighty-seven years old and she is forgetting more and more, but she hasn’t forgot about baking those cookies. Oh no, not those cookies.