Ahh, look what I found - a picture of my grandparents, circa 1977, I'm thinking. Grandad's holding his pipe and obviously trying to explain what he was thinking when he bought that jacket -- he's always been a flashy dresser, famous for his go-to-hell golf pants and up until recently, a rainbow-colored wardrobe of neon-bright Lacoste shirts -- with Ma trying to get the better of him but always failing because she was the kindest person in the world and would never come right out and say, "I win because your jacket looks like the upholstery on the interior of a Mercury Grand Marquis."
They were always Coupe de Ville people anyway. Except for Ma's pink and white '57 Chevy that I accidentally back down her hilly driveway when I was three, and her olive green Barracuda. We used to go hill-jumping in that thing out on state road 109 where it wound across the ridges of the Blue River and down into the shallow little valley.
I called her Ma because when I first began addressing her, I was too small to form the word "Grandma" -- I was a child prodigy who walked at nine months and spoke complete, if garbled, sentences at fourteen months (all that smarty-pants-ness came screeching to a halt when I started trying to count.) I'm kind of sorry that name stuck because it didn't do her justice: she would have been better fit with the title "Best Grandmother the World Has Seen or Ever Will See, World Without End, Amen."
Anyway, she was my Julia Child-loving grandma, the one who sat and giggled with helpless delight when Julia said on one of her shows, "First, you take a leek....." It's her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, that I used last night to make the beef bourguignon. She died when I was eighteen -- over half my life has been lived without her -- and I have never gotten over it. Probably never will.
Grandad is approaching his ninetieth birthday, so very old and frail. He can't feed himself anymore, having had a stroke the weekend before last -- we thought it would be the end of him, but he's a tough old nut -- and I was feeding him some chocolate pudding and a cold can of strawberry Ensure when I went to visit last Friday. I thought he might like a drink of water, so I held the straw to his lips and he took a slurp, his heavy eyelids widening in surprise.
"Heyyyy," he slurred indignantly, "thasss not Essssurrrre."
"I thought you might like a drink of water," I explained.
"Donnn like waaaaterrrrr," he advised me, giving me a crooked smile. "Esssssurrrrrre or nothinnn'."
Ensure it was!
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