I guess it was about the summer of 2004 when I became the head honcho of your pedicure department. I remember you had just come home from the hospital where you used up what I calculate to be #6 of your 9 lives, and we were sitting in the kitchen, running our mouths as usual.
“I need my toe nails cut.”
“Want me to do that for you, Gma?”
“Sure. While you are at it, why don’t you paint them too?”
And that was how the hot pink conversations began. We determined that if we painted your toes a fun (somewhat racy for an older broad) color, that we would talk about whatever we wanted. Anything goes during hot pink time. That was also the first time I called you Ethel. (Even though your name is Winnie.)
So we did. We ran our mouths and solved all the world’s problems- but never our own- during pedicure time. And we have continued that tradition. Every year about this time, your toe nails get a hot pink infusion of life.
Last night, I learned that you are starting hospice. And that from this point on, you will no longer receive IV fluids. You don't want to eat or drink anymore, so I know that we are on the final countdown. You aren’t going to be here on this earth much longer.
Needless to say I had a stiff drink after that realization. And I went to sleep early.
When I woke up this morning, I had such an incredible peace in my heart! I knew what I had to do. I had to go give you one more pedicure.
That’s exactly what I did. You were resting so peacefully, and hardly moved at all!
(Except when I accidentally tickled your toes a little bit. Sorry ‘bout that.)
And I talked to you. Just like always. Well, I toned it down, because you have a roommate at the nursing home. I didn’t want to freak her out with our “colorful” conversations.
Cause that is something you are famous for. Not that you swear every other word, but that you put a hilarious spin on things. You make off the wall analogies, pepper in some folksy words, and 9 times out of 10, I will learn something about life I did not know before.
But today, I didn’t get lippy, per the usual. I talked quietly about the kids and what they are doing, talked about the flowers that are starting to grow, and showed off these awesome nail color pens that dry quick.
And I gave you a manicure…. Yeah, your nails now look better than mine.
And even though I couldn’t trim your toenails today, I gave you a pedi to beat the band with.
When you get to heaven in a few days, Jesus is going to tell you how good your toes look, I just know it! Not that a pedi will impress the Big Guy or anything, but He appreciates art and creativity- it’s all part of the Imago Dei.
Then I brushed your hair, because if nothing else- being hopped up on morphine is no excuse to look disheveled. And then I snapped a pic of us. You even opened your eyes for a moment!
(I think you wanted to verify that I was blubbering like a baby and there wasn’t a beached whale in your room. You may be drugged up, but we ALL KNOW that you are still micromanaging us. Trust me. We are well aware.)
As I prepared to go, I thought about all the things I wanted to make sure and tell you while we had a minute alone. Just us. (And your potentially nosey roommate a curtain away.)
And that’s when it hit me like a lead balloon.
There is nothing I want to tell you that we haven’t said already. We have spent the bulk of my adult life being frank with each other. We have always been the kinds of women that speak our minds. We don’t mince words, and we say our peace. It amused me to no end last Saturday evening, which was your last good day, and you said, “I don’t believe I talk to my granddaughter like this.” (We were talking about sex, one of our favorite topics.) I don’t believe we had that kind of a relationship either, Gma.
But I am so thankful we did.
You were the one who told me to start writing. You were the one who taught me the valuable lesson of hiding from the world every 3 or 4 days, and how that helps keep us sane. You were the one who told me “It takes more energy to cry than to laugh. Sometimes you have to cry, but you are always better off if you can laugh about it.” That, Gma, is my life motto. And let’s just say right now I have a lot of laughing to catch up on.
I walked out of the nursing home, bawling because this sucks, and I got into my crappy van. I looked in the rear view mirror, and discovered that the tissues you have in your room had exploded all over my face. I looked like I had cut my eyeballs shaving and stuck toilet paper on them. And my nose. And I looked down at my boobs and they were covered with paper wads. There was lint and tissue everywhere.
If you would have seen me at that moment, I was such a pathetic sight, you would have laughed your butt off.
I know I sure did.