Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Blast from the Past

Thanksgiving, 2002

Dramatis personae

The Narrator
Paula, my Godchild, three days a mother and Thanksgiving Day hostess
Marc, her husband
Megan, the newborn
Nancy, my sister, Paula's mother
Paul, her husband
Susan, their daughter and my niece
Erin Kate, my daughter
The Visiting Nurse
Maushop, the yellow Lab
The Grammy, mother to Nancy and me, grandmother to Paula, Susan, and Erin Kate

Paula gives birth to her first child, Megan, a few weeks ahead of schedule. She insists that she will host her first Thanksgiving dinner in her new house, regardless.

Baby Megan develops a mild case of jaundice. She will need to spend time in a glowing bilirubin blanket when she goes home from the hospital. Paula continues to insist upon hosting the family gathering in her Hanover home.

Wednesday Evening
Susan drops off a brand new Thanksgiving outfit for the Grammy at River Bay Club, the Assisted Living facility in Quincy. Heavy snow begins.

Thanksgiving Day—The Voyage
Quincy, 10 AM
Eight inches of snow has fallen overnight. I attend the Quincy v. N. Quincy football game. My team loses. It is a foreboding sign.

Quincy, 11 AM
Two River Bay attendants manage to get the rather immobile Grammy into her new outfit.

Hanover, 12 PM
Family members begin to arrive at Paula’s house. Nancy and Susan have taken over much of the meal preparation duties.

Quincy, 12 PM
I arrive at River Bay Club. It has fallen to me to transport the considerably immobile Grammy to Hanover, approximately 12 miles. The Grammy is sitting in a chair wearing her new outfit. She announces that she has waited too long to pee, and if she moves, she will wet herself. I summon the attendants, who help her from the chair. The Grammy has predicted correctly.

Hanover, 12:30 PM
A Visiting Nurse arrives to demonstrate the use of the bilirubin blanket.

Quincy, 12:30 PM
The attendants have washed and changed the Grammy. I maneuver her downstairs via wheelchair and into the car. As I heft her into the passenger seat, the protective plastic is pushed aside by her rump.

Quincy, 12:34 PM
The Grammy announces that she has to pee again. We have driven one mile. She will continue to make this announcement every thirty seconds for the entire 12-mile trip. She has refused to wear a Depends, because they are for old people. She is 80.

Hanover, 12:45 PM (Inside)
The visiting nurse begins the bilirubin blanket demonstration. All present are in rapt concentration.

Hanover, 1:05 PM (Outside)
I pull into the driveway, confident that relatives will come streaming from the house to help maneuver the heavy and almost immobile Grammy into the house. No one comes out. As I try to shuck the Grammy from the shell of the car, she announces that she is "leaking". The brick walk is dappled with patches of snow. The chill factor is 0 degrees. I walk backwards, supporting the Grammy as we slowly totter toward the door, a grotesque slow-motion tango on the treacherous walk.

Hanover, 1:10 PM (Inside)
Everyone is absorbed in the visiting nurse’s demonstration. The doorbell begins to ring wildly and continuously. Susan wonders, "Who the h--- is that?"

Hanover, 1:10 PM (Outside)
I am holding up the collapsing, tinkling Grammy with one hand and frantically ringing the doorbell with the other. I wonder, "Where the f--- are they all?"

Hanover, 1:11 PM
The door opens. All becomes clear. Maushop begins barking ecstatically, doing his Happy Dance of Greeting, blocking the doorway.

Thanksgiving Day—the Dinner

1:15 PM
Susan and Erin Kate maneuver the Grammy into the bathroom for salvage operations. She emerges 15 minutes later in her emergency outfit, her third change of clothes in less than two hours. "When do we eat?" she asks.

2:00 PM
The family sits down to a sumptuous meal. The Grammy, as has become her habit, begins to load her plate with food and to eat before others are even seated.

2:02 PM
Marc, deeply affected by his first Thanksgiving as a father, begins to say Grace. He is unfazed by the loud bovine munching sounds in the background. His first heartfelt sentence is punctuated by the Grammy, announcing, "Gravy! I need gravy!" After his second sentence, his usually demure bride blurts out, "That’s enough! I’m hormonal! I just wanna eat!"

2:45 PM
The main course is complete. Susan and Erin Kate take the Grammy on a pre-emptive bathroom run. We are out of Grammy outfits.

3:00 PM
The Grammy enters the kitchen on the arms of Susan and Erin Kate. She announces, "I think I may throw up." And she does, in projectile fashion, her entire Thanksgiving dinner. Susan is a victim of the sidestream. Nancy catches most of the outflow in the empty mashed potato pot. I catch the second wave in a plastic pie-plate cover.

3:15 PM
The Grammy announces that she now has lots of room for dessert. She eats three pieces of pie—lemon meringue, pecan, and squash, all "slivers".

3:40 PM
John, younger brother to Nancy and me, calls from Washington, DC. The Grammy tells us that it’s nice that at least one of her children is thoughtful. She then tells her favorite Thanksgiving story, about how I ruined Thanksgiving dinner when I was eight. She tells it every year. My crime? I was sent to the store to buy cranberry sauce, and I came home with whole berry instead of jellied.

4:00 PM
The Grammy is exhausted and wants to go home. This time, she is escorted to the car by something resembling a rugby scrum. We discover that the RAV4’s passenger door lock is frozen from being open so long duringthe unloading. We have to tie the door closed with rope.

4:00-4:30 PM
I drive the Grammy home. With every left turn, the door opens about an inch, and she yells, "I’m falling out of the car!"

4:45 PM
The Grammy is safely ensconced back in River Bay Club. "Who’s doing Christmas dinner?" she asks.

Welcome, Ryan

There are few better feelings in the world than holding a new
grandchild. Ryan Thomas McShane arrived on his due date.

The proud parents, Matt and Christine
Evan is just loving his new role as a big brother.

Posted by Picasa