My grandma is the strong and silent type. At least she tries to be.
When we take my grandma out to lunch (more like she takes us out – she never lets us pay), she typically remains quiet while we fill her in on the latest family gossip and share the details of our lives. When we ask her what is new with her, we usually get a quick response of, “nothing much” and when you ask her about her opinion on the decisions of our family members, 95 percent of the time, she’ll say, “I’m just the grandmother, I don’t mix in” and leaves it at that.
There is however, an exception to this rule. My grandma’s other 5 % is hysterical. She will never criticize anyone directly, but every so often, she will be sitting with me and my mother and inadvertently make a very blunt comment about another family member. Like, “Have you seen the low cut shirts that your cousin has been wearing lately?” or “If only he’d lose 20 pounds, I’m sure he’d have no trouble finding a girlfriend.” Oy.
Last week, I received an alarming call from my mother letting me know that my grandma was in the hospital. Worried, I immediately gave my mom the third degree, trying to assess what was wrong and how serious the situation was.
Here is what happened:
That day, my mother had spoken with Grandma Fanny at noon, and all was well. At 4:00 p.m., my grandma failed to call her best friend Sylvie like she always does each day, so at 4:01 p.m., Sylvie panicked. Oh, Jewish grandmas.
She frantically called my grandma, who was barely able to answer but told her that she was dizzy and was having major stomach problems, vomiting etc.
Sylvie proceeded to call my mother, Annette, and two uncles, Mardy and Jerry, at home, and received no answer (4:00 p.m. – everyone was at work – duh). So rather than going over there, she called 911. Then she realized that she can call my mom’s cell phone, got through, and from there, of course the whole family wass alerted. My dad and my uncles raced across town to grandma’s house to beat EMS before they broke down her door.
Grandma, G-d bless her, was laying in bed, sick as a dog, and while my father dealt with EMS, my uncle Jerry noticed a small handwritten note on the fridge that hadn’t been there the day before when he had visited:
If I get sick, it’s from the chicken that Mardy brought me from Giant Eagle.
Oh, Grandma. I think you’ve been watching too much Seinfeld. Most people just wouldn’t eat the chicken. My grandma, bless her heart, eats the chicken that she already has a hunch is bad, and leaves a note to place the blame before the illness even sets in.
While it’s not the best day to be Uncle Mardy, it’s good to be my grandma, because we all love her and rushed to take care of her at a moment’s notice. And to give my uncle a bit of credit, apparently the illness wasn’t entirely the fault of the chicken. Grandma is on the mend but suffering not just from food poisoning but vertigo.
The holidays remind me each year how lucky I am to have my grandparents in my life, even when they’re a little crazy. To all of you reading, take a moment at some point over the high holidays to tell your grandparents to have a happy and healthy new year – and that if the chicken looks bad, it likely is. Don’t eat it!