When I write about my evil grandmother, I know some people think I’m exaggerating about how mean she can be. Rarely is exaggeration needed, I promise you, but I suppose I might have stretched the truth here and there while enduring the many, many years of her vile behavior. Whatevs.
Other people think I’m making the woman up, that I don’t even have a grandmother. To you people I say: SHUT. IT.
And there are others who get excited at the possibility that I might be seeing my grandma, because that means Evil Grandma stories! So glad someone enjoys the woman’s presence on Earth.
I usually share Evil Grandma stories that could all be published under the title “Grandma Hates Jen,” but this time I’ve got one I’m going to call “Mom’s Amazing Self-Control.” My mom shared this with me and Kathy today, and I got her permission to post it here because in our family we believe in the importance of turning tears into laughter. It’s much better than the alternative, which is turning tears into a murder rap.
Mom’s email opened like this:
After my last few days with Grandma, I’m happier and happier that I live in Oregon—physician-assisted suicide...
I’ve been told by many that it’s people like me who make physician-assisted suicide so difficult to define and legalize. Turns out Mom is people like me too. Heh heh heh…
Two mornings in a row Grandma has called me feeling awful—can’t sleep, upset stomach, etc. I went over each time, and each time once I was there for a short time, she seemed to begin feeling better. Once she talked about me taking her to my place for a few hours. I politely said no to her ‘invitation.’
Last night Shirley and I went out. About 9:30 I took my sleeping pills and had just fallen asleep when Mother called.
When Grandma calls Mom, she almost always starts out speaking in the whiniest, most irritating voice you could imagine—as if whatever she is about to say isn’t enough to make you want to reach through the phone and strangle her. And since Grandma’s bedtime is usually 6 p.m., getting a call from her in the middle of the night (9:30 p.m.) can never be a good thing.
“Maaaaaryyyy, could you call Bud to ask him to come over when he’s finished with his gig to take me to the hospital?”
My uncle Paul—Mom and Grandma call him “Bud”—is a musician; hence the gig. Why Grandma couldn’t call him directly and leave a message, or call ‘Auntie’ Claire, I do not know. Pretty sure she just wanted Mom but wouldn’t admit it.
“Mother, what’s the problem?”
“I just can’t sleep, I’ve been vomiting, and I just feel awful.”
“But Mother, you know there isn’t anything they can do if you go to the ER.”
“But I just can’t get to sleep!”
“Mother, how about I bring you over some of my sleeping pills (which by the way I just took and have made me very sleepy) and see if they will make you sleepy?”
Mom’s sleeping pills are Benadryl. Nothing potent.
Now, in a very natural, normal voice, as if she’s just had ten hours’ sleep: “Oh Mary, could you do that?”
I grab the pills from the drawer, look at them and yell “WORK!!!”
Mom drove across town (“down the street” in normal city size-speak) to Grandma’s.
I walk in and she says, “Mary, I’m so sorry to bother you, but I just feel terrible.” The trash bucket beside her bed is dry—she has NOT been vomiting.
“Mother, have you taken your evening pills?”
Grandma doesn’t always take the medications she needs on schedule, which is a lot of the reason she gets sick in the first place. This is a constant stressor to Mom, and she’s done everything she can to make it easier for Grandma to remember (if forgetting is really the reason) or for other people to help her remember.
“No, do you think I should take them?”
“Yes, Mother, and take these also.” I hand her two sleeping pills. An internal battle develops: “Mary! Give her ALL the sleeping pills!!” “Mary, an autopsy will show the drugs in her, just give her two.”
See what I mean? Mom is people like me!
“Mary, I don’t think I should take all my pills and your sleeping pills too.”
“No, Mother, it’s OK; my pills are very mild.”
And then comes my very favoritest part:
Eyes wide and with a look of extreme seriousness, Mother says, “Mary, you would never forgive yourself if I didn’t wake up in the morning!”
So where can I sign up for one of those death panels I’ve been hearing so much about? I don’t want to decide if everyone should live or die, just one old bat. And it’s not really so much a decision as a demand.