It wasn’t my fault. Not really. It was Sissy’s fault. Even if the 6-year-old wasn’t the one who did it, she’s to blame. But Ali’s not off the hook; the 8-year-old played a part in it, too. As did dear little James Mervin. Honestly, if I had to apportion blame, he’d get 55-percent. If he wasn’t only 3-years-old and autistic, I could easily dump 90-percent of the fault at his little feet. But of the four of us, I’m the only one who’s innocent. Technically.
This is what happened:
I spent last weekend at my granddaughter’s house, caring for my three great grandkids. We were having a grand time, organizing their new bedrooms, watching Harry Potter movies and eating high calorie foods laced with sugar, fats and nitrates when James Mervin forgot he was autistic. Then, things went all to hell, real fast.
James started signing up a storm, pointing at his Hot Wheels track, then back at me while patting the floor. I pretended I didn’t understand. So helpful little Ali interpreted for him. James began nodding “yes” as she explained what he wanted. Then he looked me straight in the eye and frosted the cake. “Please, gamma, please,” said the kid who rarely talks.
I rolled my eyeballs towards heaven and heard Morgan Freeman laughing as I squatted and dropped. I had to have both knees replaced a few years back and though I love my new bionic joints, I haven’t yet mastered getting up from the ground. I should have–I spent a lot of time there–tripping over my damn dog. The border collie from hell never leaves my side.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fragile creature. Once I’m on my feet, I can leap tall buildings in a single bound, climb ladders and fly up apple trees. I go shingle-walking every December, putting up Christmas lights. I haven’t gone bungee-jumping yet, but I’m not ruling it out.
That’s probably why I’m so vain about getting up off the floor. I don’t want any witnesses. It’s a long, time-consuming process that is undignified and ungraceful. It’s simply not a sight I want emblazoned in the young, impressionable minds of my great grandkids:
ALI, 25 YEARS FROM NOW: “I remember my great grandma Annie. Wasn’t she the one who had to scrabble across the floor–like a two-legged crab–to stand up? That’s all I remember about her.”
SISSY, 25 YEARS FROM NOW: “Yeah, I remember her. She looked really funny standing up. She could get her butt in the air but that’s as far as it went. That’s all I remember about her.
DEAR LITTLE JAMES MERVIN, 25 YEARS FROM NOW: Isn’t she the one who scarred me for life—made it so I’m terrified of Hot Wheels and crab legs, to this day? My psychiatrist says I shouldn’t try to remember her.”
CHELSEA, 25 YEARS FROM: My grandma, your great grandma, loved you kids very much. I’m sorry James; your sisters and I won’t ever talk about her again.
All this flashed through my mind as I “dropped” to the ground. Consequently, I resigned myself to remaining on the floor with Sophie and my great grandkids until Chelsea and Anthony returned home, and I could be hoisted, discretely, to my feet. So, for the next two days, the four of us would sit on the floor racing Hot Wheels.
We raced Hot Wheels and then raced Hot Wheels some more. We continued racing Hot Wheels until the girls started squawking about being hungry. I paused briefly, just to look at the clock. It wasn’t supper time. It was bedtime; we had Hot Wheeled straight through dinner. Little did the kids know that we would still be on the floor, racing Hot Wheels, when their parents got home. Unfed. Unbathed. And probably damn unhappy.
And that’s exactly what we would have done if I hadn’t had to pee. I looked around; saw nothing that would work as a urine receptacle, and knew I had to get up. When my knees refused to cooperate, the kids were eager to help.
Ali grabbed my right arm, James grabbed my left arm and then the dear little idiots crisscrossed, Ali pulling my right arm to the left while James pulled my left arm to the right. I will spend the rest of my life shaped like a pretzel. And while I was being shaped for life, dear little Sissy and Sophie crawled underneath me, and tried to . . . what . . . hoist me up? On their backs?
Truthfully, I don’t know what the fuck dear little Sissy and my dog were doing, but it got me to laughing so hard I started leaking. Then the kids began belly-laughing, Sophie started barking, and they all collapsed on the floor. You know where this is going, don’t you?
By the time I was on my feet, my bladder was empty and we were all wet. Ali blamed Sissy. Sissy blamed Sophie. Sophie glared at James Mervin and growled. My great grandson never said a word. He’s discrete, but he knew. I could tell.
Anyway, that’s how dear little James Mervin’s brand-new rug lost its “brand-new rug” smell. For me, it was just another day, and one more reminder that the need for *Depends was drawing nigh.
Annie Aronson: grandmother, writer & fabulous