This weekend I did my good deed for the year. I spent the last several months wrangling my brother, sister and aunt from three very different locales and shuttled them down to Maryland for my grandmother’s 95th birthday.
While there were many good moments this weekend, the best came months before it, when my family members were goaded just enough that they took over the planning and didn’t need a mastermind anymore. They needed me to start it, tell them where to go, who to call, what was covered, what to do when, and then, without me knowing, I was being told who my ride was and where to sleep. It was like a plan coming together, though one that required eight-hour trips each way for my sickly body.
The whole thing was worth it when my grandmother opened the door, laid eyes on my brother, and her face opened up. Later my sister, a fully grown chemist, laid on the sofa with her head in Grandma’s lap and they reminisced about life twenty years ago.
I got an entire restaurant to sing Happy Birthday to her while the waitress brought in the cake we snuck behind Grandma’s back. On Sunday morning we sat with her on her actual 95th birthday and she dug out faded envelope with her baby photos, her high school graduation, college graduation, and wedding with the original John Wiswell.
Everyone managed to step on someone’s toes at some point this weekend because that is how families work, but I could not have asked for a better birthday for my grandmother. We got her a tiara, and slippers, and a card that sang “Born to be Wild,” and learned that Grandma doesn’t know what “Born to be Wild” is.
Of the many highlights, my favorite is below.
Her final birthday gift was a brand new copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. A gag gift (or ball gag gift, if you ask me). It turns out my sweet old granny knows what this book is and hollered laughing at the ceiling over it. She promises to hide it under her pillow when polite company comes over. It’s only better that the book was Mom’s idea.