“I have to go to the powder room,” my ancient Grandmother announced, a note of desperation in her voice, her caterac-ted eyes staring at me in cloudy confusion.
“Okay, Grandma. I’ll help you.” I pushed back my seat and rolled her walker toward her. I gently grabbed her under the armpits, pushed aside her chair with my foot and moved the walker closer to her shaky, outreached, translucent hands.
“Here,” I said as I swiveled her slight body around, pointing her toward the woman’s restroom. “The bathroom is down the hallway.”
It took us an eternity to reach it. I pushed the swinging door forward and accompanied Grandma through, helping her negotiate the transition from carpet to tile.
“Oh damn,” she mumbled to herself. “I think it’s too late.”
“It’s okay, Grandma,” I reassured her. “You’ll be just fine.”
I followed her as she slid the walker across the floor. She headed for the disabled stall, the one with the extra wide seat and handholds. We negotiated the turn and I moved her walker away from her. She held on tight to the banister as I slipped her wool skirt up over her soft thighs, pulling down her stockings and panties in one gentle yank.
“I hope it’s not too late,” she whimpered.
“It’s not,” I answered, relieved. I helped her sit down on the toilet seat.
She pulled at the toilet tissue with her manicured, delicate fingers, her gold charm bracelet clattering against the metal stall wall. She rose slowly as I held her with both my hands under her hollow, fragile armpits. She felt like a rag doll. She could fall to the floor in a heap at any moment.
“Lean forward Grandma, onto my shoulders,” I directed her. I bent down, pulled up her panties and stockings around her rounded, tender tummy. I tugged the silk slip and plaid skirt down over her prefabricated hips.
“Thank you honey,” she said as I swung the walker toward her. “Old age is the pits. I hope you never have to go through this.”
We shuffled back to the table. Our soup was waiting for us. I helped Grandma sit down, then placed a napkin around her neck. “The soup should be cold enough to eat now,” I said.
“Pass me the sherry,” Grandma demanded before tasting her chowder. I did as she asked. She turned the bottle upside down and poured a generous portion into her bowl. “They never put enough damn sherry into the soup here,” Grandma whispered to me. “You know how they are with sherry? Stingy.” She smiled at me and set about eating with fragile gusto.
When she was done she pushed the bowl forward. “That was good,” she said leaning back into her chair. “Yesterday your mother took me here to eat and someone paid the tab. The waitress came over to our table and said, ‘Ladies, you don’t need to pay. The man who just left picked up your bill.’ We couldn’t believe it. Wasn’t that nice?”
“Yes Grandma,” I said.
“So then your mother took me to the dentist. And when the doctor was done he said ‘Mrs. Daniels, your teeth are fine. I don’t need to do anything with you today. Go home and rest.’ I said ‘What do I owe you?’ He said, ‘Nothing, it’s on the house.’ I turned to your mother and said, ‘Quick Edna, get in the car and let’s go to a fur store and buy a mink stole. Luck is with us today.’ But your mother wouldn’t go. You know how she is. She didn’t think someone would give me a mink coat, but I think if we had gone, there might have been a chance. Growing old is awful sweetheart, but yesterday it worked to my advantage. Now pour a little of that sherry into my glass, please. I might as well finish it up.”