Asia and Elephants


“Every coin has two sides, just like most people have two faces” Rashida Rowe


Mom at the age of 85 had a sudden health crisis that couldn’t have been more dramatic. Stage 4 breast cancer, and a full radical mastectomy later, she was barely out of the operating room when she started complaining about it being time to go home. Patience was what I was going to need and in ample doses.


The nursing staff was wonderful, and I found myself buffering her impatience with them continually. I cannot be held accountable for her bad behavior when I went home to sleep.


My kids were worried about Gram, so I was glad to see them when they arrived for a visit. Gram’s eyes filled with tears at the site of them, and she embraced each of them tightly. They sat on her bed with her and began to work their magic cheering her up.


“Hey Gramma, how are you doing?” asked my daughter. “I am fine and ready to go home, I can’t stand this place”, she replied. “The food is horrible, and they ask me the stupidest questions.”  “I don’t know why I am still here?” “Help me make an escape, will you? “ At this they all laughed, and the kids began their plotting. They told her that they would tie a bunch of blankets together and hoist her out the window. “You climb down and we will meet you at the bottom. “


Mom began telling the kids about a nurse that comes and asks the stupidest questions. “Like what does she ask?” they cried in unison. “Stupid things like where are you? What day is it? What day is your birthday?”


The kids said, “You are kidding, right?” “Nope”, complained Mom,” I told you this place is filled with crazy people.”


“She is just asking those questions to determine your cognitive level and state of mind, Mom.” “She is just learning and probably asks the questions straight from the book.” “You just need to answer, it isn’t a big deal.”


She threw me an “Oh Phooey”, and turned to the kids. “Well here is my plan”, she said. “Next time that knucklehead asks me those questions, I am going to tell her that I am in Asia riding an elephant and the day is December 25, 1923.” The kids thought this was hilarious, and together they put together a whole battery of other answers she could go with. The three of them were always thick as thieves in their mischief and only ever encouraged one another.


When the kids learned that the girl was a student at the post-secondary institution that my son attended, they had the opportunity to pull a fast one on Gramma. A rare occasion, so they took full advantage of it. My son asked her what her name was, and Gram responded. He feigned a shocked look on his face, and told his Grandmother that this was his girlfriend, that he had met her at school and they were seeing each other. This caught Gram off guard for just a moment, but it didn’t take her long to recover.


“Well you better drop her”, she replied. “She’ll be nothing but a pain, asking you where you’ve been, who you were with and why you were there?” Gram said. “I can find you someone far better than that.” “That’s just what a guy needs”, my son said, “his gramma finding him his girlfriend at the ripe old age of eighteen.” “But okay, Gram if you pick her out she’ll probably be okay, so go for it.”


I watched them as they carried on with their easy banter. My kids loved their Gram, like no other. I wandered off into thought, as they carried on the craziness only they could do so well with their Gram.


From the moment that my son was born, she was their fierce protector. Within the first two weeks of his birth, she was questioning me about whether I would be going back to work and if so what would I do for childcare? I told her that I did plan to go back to work after maternity leave and didn’t know but felt that I would have to look for an appropriate day home during my time off. She would have none of this. “I will move to Calgary then, and look after him while you work”, she said. “My Grandson cannot be in a daycare”, she said incredulously.  And so we began our search for an apartment for her to relocate to. Picking up her whole life to be closer to her Grandson. I hope that he recognizes how important he is to her one day, I thought to myself.


We found a nice little place, and Mom was off to start her new life. There was a senior’s club in the building, and she made some fast friends. We picked her up every weekday morning and she came to watch her grandson for the day. A luckier little boy there never was. These two became thick as thieves, and then came his little sister. Gramma couldn’t have been happier and although she was well into her seventies, she kept up with the two of them.


She taught them things that only a Gramma can do so well. The slower, more important things in life. She taught them how to enjoy being outside each and every day. She filled their lives with imagination, in the makeshift store they would set up in the kitchen to shop in. The gas station on the front driveway where they would ride their bikes or little tyke’s vehicles.


She taught them to jump in mud puddles, make mud pies and enjoy every minute of it. They would run out in the rain, and laugh as they got soaking wet.


 She dried their tears, and strengthened their characters. She loved them completely and totally unconditionally. They could tell her anything, and she would listen quietly. They could even complain about us, and she would quietly listen and then sum up the conversation with “Yes but you know dear, you are awfully lucky to have the parents that you do.”


They knew without a shadow of a doubt that they were the most important people in her life. And she was equally important to them. There’s was a relationship filled with pranks. The kids jumping on the bed, put ketchup on themselves to pretend to Gram that they had seriously hurt themselves. She would play along with it all and often encouraged them to higher craziness.


I could see she was getting tired, so told the kids perhaps it was time to go. Their visit had certainly cheered her up. This was for certain. “Stay out of trouble” they chimed as they headed out the door. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do”, she retorted.


She remained in the hospital for two dreadful weeks, brutalizing all that encountered her. I wondered at the person they must think she was, as she refused to cooperate with much. It was a reminder to me that we cannot judge a book by its cover, as sometimes the cover is just wearing a little thin.


No sooner did I finish this thought, when the student nurse walked in the room. I gave Mom my best you better not look, to which she flashed me back, the “I’ll do what I damn well please” look that only she could do as her eyes twinkled with mischief.


I braced myself, as the questions began.


“What day is it?”


Mom shot me a glance, smiled and turned to look at the nurse “Well dear, if you would pass me a calendar I would be happy to tell you the date. The days look pretty much the same to me, in this prison cell.” She then proceeded to answer all of the questions properly, much to my relief.


When the nurse left the room, I turned to Mom and said “You enjoyed that didn’t you?”


She grinned, and said “Best fun I have had all week”.


Love and Light






5 thoughts on “Asia and Elephants

  1. Laurie says:

    Love it Jacquie and I agree with your Mom, your kids are lucky to have such great parents! One of the hardest jobs I have ever done/do – parenting. 💝


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