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The Older, The Wiser
When Grandma thinks about her youth, she tells her grandchildren yet again about the summer when times were better and rambles on about how easy they have it nowadays. Every time the story is told it gets a little more interesting, the facts change, and the stories blur together. For the first time in her life, she wishes she could get a little less sleep, but it sneaks up on her at all times of the day, robbing her of more time with her family. Her skin has started to droop and she longs to run as she used to, but a brisk walk gets her quickly out of breath. Getting off the couch is an ordeal and forget about trying to get off the floor. She wears her hair in a generic old woman’s perm, chosen to make her hair look fuller. The amount of pills she takes equals the amount of candy a parent would say would spoil a child’s appetite. Her bones protest with every movement with creaks and groans.
Especially today. Today she felt like her brittle bones might give out, but today she chose to ignore them.
The sun was bright on her face, a welcome change to the blow of the air conditioning that is usually on her all day. Today she spent the whole day with her youngest grandchild. Whatever the child asked her to do she was determined to grant the wish. After lunch they decided to play Frisbee in her daughter’s backyard.
While they were playing Joseph was complaining about his older sister.
“… and her friends are sooo annoying. They giggle too much. Did you hear them before? They said to her, “your grandma is so cute”. They say that about everything: you, me, the dog, even the tiny sandwiches mom made them yesterday. Everything is sooo cute.” Being only seven, his mind switched topics rapidly. It was hard for Grandma’s old brain to keep up.
“I’m tired Grandma,” His face lit up as an idea popped into his head. “I want to show you my favorite movie!”
She past being tired a few games ago, so, glad for the suggestion, she nodded and smiled in agreement. Little Joseph ran inside so quickly that Grandma wondered how tired he really was.
The steps were a struggle but she eventually made it into the house where Joseph was waiting. He ran into the family room where the television was and started fiddling with the remote. For some reason something wasn’t working and the movie wouldn’t play.
Grandma sighed. “When I was a little girl…” she started to say, and Joseph rolled his eyes. Young as he was he knew what was coming.
“I know Grandma, when you were a little girl there were no TVs.” She nodded and was about to tell how much easier life was without the abundance of technology, but the movie interrupted her when it finally popped up on the screen. She would have liked to have watched the whole thing but as soon as the movie started a wave of fatigue swept over her and she couldn’t help nodding off. Joseph did his best to catch her every time she nodded off but eventually it was no use.
When the movie was over Joseph woke her up and complained to her. “You slept through the whole thing. I thought you would really like my movie.”
She was hurt by his disappointment. “I’m sure I would have, sweetheart, and I’m sorry but I can’t control when I fall asleep anymore. I was really looking forward to watching this with you.”
“I hope I never get old,” said Joseph. “There’s nothing good about it.” Grandma watched him skip off into the kitchen to rummage around for snacks. She thought about what he had said.
Her daughter walked into the room and looked at her mother. Joseph’s mom, Lucy, had been using the time that Joseph was being kept busy to catch up on her reading, lounging in the big blue recliner in the living room. Grandma didn’t seem to have noticed that she had come in. Behind her mother’s cloudy blue eyes Lucy saw a hint of sadness and longing.
“Anything wrong, Mom?” She asked sitting next to her.
“Oh, don’t mind me,” she answered. “I’m just trying to think of something good that could come out of being old.”
“Did you think of anything?”
“Would you like to tell me?” Lucy paused. “So that I have something to look forward to?”
“Well, for one thing, I never have to pay full price at restaurants.” Grandma smiled and Lucy gave a small laugh. “And everyone tries to act nicer around me and they try to take care of me. Don’t get me wrong, it can get a little annoying at times, but it does make people in general seem a little bit nicer.”
Just then Joseph ran in and jumped onto his mother’s lap, cookie crumbs falling from his overly stuffed mouth.
“And,” Grandma laughed.” I never would have gotten to meet this handsome boy if I had stayed young forever.”
She paused thoughtfully for awhile then said, “I guess what it really comes down to is if you never get old, you can never really appreciate life. Not to mention, I never thought I’d ever see the day when someone would call me cute again!”