It seems like everyone’s grandma is sick this year, some worse than others. My grandmother has bounced back remarkably since her latest “exciting event” and I count myself lucky. Ashley, a dispatcher who works the night shift at my PD, and Jocelyn from This Surreal Life both have grandmothers who are dying.
Yet out of pain and sadness something funny usually happens. This is one of those stories.
I work the opposite shift as Ashley. She’s relatively new and was never one of my recruits (how does that even happen? I swear I fight and scrap to train everyone I can get my figurative claws on) which is why I don’t know Ashley very well. I do know that she’s sharp as a tack and seems to have a great sense of humor under her quiet exterior. I’ll also point out that she’s never thrown a brick at me, but even if she had I’ve learned my lesson about saying something flippantly negative about someone using their real name (thank you again Sherry Dion!).
Ashley’s grandmother is in the hospital fighting a second bout of ovarian cancer. They did one surgery which turned into a second, emergency, surgery where they found more cancer. Due to the nature of this newly discovered cancerous material and to her overall health, she is not a candidate for further surgery. She is terminally ill.
Whistling past the graveyard, I am often known to say “everyone dies” in a flat tone which can seem cold or sad or frightening or all three. But while everyone dies, Ashley’s grandmother is dying now. It’s entirely possible she’ll die never having read this story.
That’s not the funny part.
The funny thing happened a few days ago at the hospital.
A woman from Ashley’s grandma’s church came by to visit. The parishioners had been told of grandma’s dire condition; there was no confusion. I will be perfectly clear on this point: everyone knew grandma was terminally ill. Also, grandma has a sense of humor but is not a circus clown or a stand up comedian. There are many words to describe grandma but no one Ashley has every met would use the words “wacky” or “kooky” in their first hundred choices of adjectives.
Yet into grandma’s tiny, sad hospital room strode a woman with a handful of greeting cards and a big mylar “Bon Voyage” balloon bouquet. She giggles and hands grandma three carefully chosen Hallmark cards with some words carefully scratched out and replaced with others.
Card Number 1 was a “Moving” card. “Happy to hear about your move (careful addition): to Heaven!”
Card Number 2 was a “Congratulations” card. “Congratulations on
your new job the end of your misery!”
Card Number 3 was a “Graduation” card. “Congratulations on your upcoming graduation (careful addition): to the afterlife!"
Ashley’s grandma is 67 years old, twelve years younger than my grandma but still from an era where ladies were taught to have tact and grace (perhaps in cotillion club). She smiled and said “How thoughtful and unexpected, thank you.” She was really thinking “Is this woman off her meds again?”
This surreal experience has given Ashley’s grandma a great story to tell every visitor since the church lady left the room.
I hope grandma gets to tell her “crazy church lady” story for quite a while yet.