Dueling Grandmas

Posted: June 21st, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Miss Kate | No Comments »

Today Kate and I took my mother-in-law, Peggy, to Chaparral House for our weekly visit with Rose.

I think I conduct my life at a far more hectic pace than Peggy (and most humans), so by the time we were supposed to hit the nursing home we’d already gone clothes shopping, had a dip and a picnic lunch at a nearby lake, and I’d gone grocery shopping. Kate had also managed to take two naps in her crib around these activities.

So, when it was time to head out to Chap House, I’d offered Peggy the option to pass and just chill out at home. I could easily be responsible for short-circuiting my introverted mother-in-law with excessive socializing and stimulation, and I’d hate to do that since I really like her. Besides, I regulalry challenge her introverted son in this manner and it seems just plain cruel to run the whole family ragged. Peggy had thankfully managed to squeeze in a micro-nap along the way and assured me she was interested in witnessing her baby granddaughter’s volunteer work first-hand.

It should be noted that Chaparral House has essentially become the Cult of Kate. It used to be just the oldsters who hopped out of their pants when she entered the building, but along the way she’s also captured the hearts of the nursing staff. A machine could start beeping urgently from a nearby room and the closest nurse won’t flinch as she holds Kate on her knee and does the “sooooo big” thing for the 36th time.

And it turns out that having a child who is a messiah makes me kinda proud. We walked into the nursing home and all manner of wheelchair-bound folk and nurses in those goofy smocks that have everything from teddy bears to Sponge Bob Squarepants printed on them are calling out, “Hi Kate!” It’s nice.

We made our way through the adoring masses towards Rose’s room. She was asleep in her wheelchair with her back to us. She has this kind of funny hipster haircut she must have gotten from Jackie, the nursing home’s very own stylist. It’s kind of blunt across the back, really short at the nape of her neck, and longer and choppy on the top and sides. It’s what you’d expect on a German designer, but it’s powder white and on the body of a slumped octogenarian.

I woke up Rose and the second she saw Kate she shook off sleep and was crying out, “Katie!” I introduced her to Peggy and from there it was essentially the typical flow in which Rose gushes over Kate’s physical attributes, utters no less than seven Yiddish terms of affection, and gives the requisite “evil eye” warning. Today she also delighted in Kate’s hand clapping, Cheerio-eating, and senseless babble. As often as she cooed over Kate’s beauty, she marvelled at her intelligence. “So smart, this one!” Rose isn’t just swayed by good looks. “It’s a smart one too,” she says solemnly.

Rose may be old and frail, but it’s hard to rival her fervid Kate-adoration. If anyone can keep pace though, it’s Peggy. It was like watching a tennis game where two players lobbed comments back and forth to keep pace with each other, yet they were on the same team. With Kate’s virtue-extolling sufficiently covered, there was little left for me to do other than get everyone cups of water.

Due to her uneven memory, a few times Rose asked Peggy if she was the grandmother. At one point when Peggy said yes, I found myself fretting the smallest bit. I’ve spent so long assuring Rose that she’s a grandmother to Kate, that I hoped bringing the real McCoy into our circle wouldn’t dismay her somewhat. She’s not one for sharing Kate.

But a few minutes later I realized I had no reason to worry. As Peggy helped Kate sip from her cup of water and Rose scolded her, “Don’t give her too much! It’s too cold! She could choke a bit on it!” I realized that Rose was secure in her grandmother-ness. To her Peggy was just another young woman like myself who needed reminding about the potential hazards to Kate that lurk all around us.

And thankfully there’s no limit on the number of grannies you can have–be they biological or adoptive. We could have worse problems than having to make room for all the women who love Kate.

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