Thursday, April 2, 2009

Will This Be What I Remember?

My grandmother is 96, so anyone who "does the math" can see that clearly the clock is ticking. I am very well aware we are running out of time with her. But I am beginning to wonder what I will remember, as my grandmother goes ballistic over things like tennis balls on her walker and digging a flower in her yard. I pray that there will still be good memories to color the negative ones. Some days, I wonder...

My grandmother's yard is a smorgasboard of plants and flowers in an amazing variety of colors, shapes and sizes. She loves her flowers. Lately, however, she has talked about "giving away" some and dividing others. She complained that her big white jonquils didn't bloom well this year because they were too thick. So, when my friend Patricia asked if I knew where she could get some peonies, I assured her I did. I asked my grandmother if she would mind to share some peonies, and she readily said "Yes!" She added that she wanted us to take some other flowers, too... and to move a few for her.

I don't know why I try to do anything that involves Mam-ma. She seemed so tickled that someone wanted some of her flowers... and Patricia was thrilled to be getting peonies - her favorite flower. (Mam-ma calls them peONies!) So yesterday I called Mam-ma around noon and told her we were coming between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. I picked Patricia up about 3:15, and we drove to Mam-ma's. I told Patricia, "If I know Mam-ma, she is already in her yard with a shovel." Well, she wasn't - and only, I think, because her neighbor Faye had wandered over from across the street to visit. So, I asked Mam-ma if she could show us where the flowers were, and she came out to the garage. We had gloves, bags, a bucket, and I had a my husband's shovel. Mam-ma took one look at it and said, "That's not a shovel. You need this one." She handed me a shovel from her garage with an extra long spade. I told her that was fine and propped Greg's shovel against the wall.

We crossed her front yard to a fence row between her house and the neighbor's, and there was the peony. She had told me last week she no longer wanted that peony - that Patricia could have all of it. So I started to dig. I had to dig deeply, and I started making a trench around the plant...Mam-ma fussing the whole time that I wasn't doing it right. At one point, she said, "Give me that shovel." I nicely told her no, to just tell me what she wanted done. The plant was huge, and I pulled at one of the stalks to see where I was, and she nearly came unglued. "You're ruining it!" I told her I was not, that I had to try to get some leverage (and I didn't tell her it was that or break her shovel handle!) She grabbed for the shovel, and I would not let her have it... I mean she actually fought me for it (from her walker, no less!) - and she was so mad. I told her, "Mam-ma, we did NOT come over here for YOU to dig up the flowers."

Then Patricia and I tried to lift the ball of the plant out of the ground, and I told Patricia, "you really can't hurt these things," and Mam-ma said, "Oh yes you can... see, you've already just about ruined the whole damn thing!" This was because my shovel had cut through some of the roots. Remember that - it's important to what happened next!

So, Patricia and I lifted the whole thing out of the ground, leaving a huge hole, into which I was trying to spade dirt from that massive plant ball, along with some rocks that were around the plant before we dug into the ground. I mean, it left a gigantic hole! Mam-ma muttered something about fixing the plant, and Patricia was frantically pulling all of the grass out from around the stalks of the plant, and she asked Mam-ma, "Is that what you mean?" Mam-ma didn't answer her. I told her, "Mam-ma, just tell her what you want done." Patricia asked again, was she doing it right? Mam-ma didn't say anything. I told her again, "We'll be glad to do whatever... just tell her what you are wanting!" Mam-ma still just stood there. When Patricia was done, she said, "Was that what you wanted?" and Mam-ma said, "Yes."

Oh, by the way, Faye had wandered out to where we were standing, and when Mam-ma uttered her "damn," Faye went home!*lol*

THEN... Mam-ma said to Patricia, "Now if you will just take a real sharp knife and cut down the middle of that ball(right throught the roots she had cursed at me for cutting!), that's what you need to do." Patricia asked, "Oh, you mean divide the plant into two?" Mam-ma said yes, and Patricia said, "Well, Debbie, why don't you just cut through them with that shovel." One pass with the shovel, and I had divided the plant.

THEN... Mam-ma says, "Now I want you to take all them rocks and dirt out of that hole where you put 'em." I did, and then she said, "Now put half of that plant back in there." Patricia asked, "Oh, you want part of these flowers?" Mam-ma said yes. Soooooooo... three diggings of the hole, and putting the plant in and taking it out and digging deeper and so forth later... we had satisfactorily replanted half that "damn" peony! I don't even want to know what my blood pressure was by then.

After that, we circled the house, digging lilies, iris, a dogwood tree (tiny), another peony plant (also tiny), some lambs' ears and some oxalis. When we got back into the car to go, Patricia said, "She has absolutely NO patience!" I agreed and added, "and as you can see, I can do nothing right." She said, "Oh, I see that!" We laughed, but I was so embarrassed... for Mam-ma. Patricia said, "She seems very sweet... but very... crochety!" Sheesh! She's got that right!

I also told Patricia that, while we observed my grandmother go back inside her house, I'm almost certain after we were good and gone, she got back outside and got her shovel and worked on a few things.

So, get this... that night, while we're watching a movie, Mam-ma calls. I answered the phone, and she said, "See if this sounds like your buttermilk pie..." and she starts reading me a recipe. She saw that in the paper today and thought it sounded like the one I made the other night for a family dinner, and she might just try it... but it calls for a deep dish pie crust, and she doesn't have any. I offered to get one the next day, and she said, "Well, we'll see." Then she asks if I want to fool with using coupons on some of her grocery items tomorrow. When we hung up, Greg asked, "Did she call to apologize?" I told him no, and why she called... he just shook his head!

I don't mean to be ugly, but I am not putting myself in that situation again, which means I'm not taking her places where she can embarrass me or herself... and I am not taking friends over there again. A very dear friend of mine who is nearly 91 once told my mother, "In time, the bad memories will fade, and you won't remember much of it." I hope that is true... and I just hope I can still enjoy peONies after this...

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