Of Symmetry and Grandma

Of Symmetry and Grandma


The symmetry of the number 44 (my brand new age) appeals to my Tourette brain, as does the day of the month and time I was born: 11 at 22:22pm.

These pleasant brain waves were nearly altered by the chaos in the driver’s license renewal office, though, so I distracted myself with the organ donation form while waiting for my turn.

Unhesitatingly I checked off the boxes to donate anything salvageable upon my untimely demise and to donate the rest to science. Then I texted my little sister to make sure she called “dibs” now on anything she might want, knowing she would completely appreciate what I was saying. She sent me the emoji laughing until he cried.

As I contemplated whether science could advance the understanding of Tourette Syndrome while dissecting my brain, my number was up and I hoped it wouldn’t be in a proverbial way anytime soon.

The girl was pleasant and thanked me kindly for agreeing to fill in the form but my response of, “What do I care? I will be dead,” met with awkward laughter.  I shrugged.  My little sister would get it.

Besides, the joke is on them because I plan to still be using all my organs when I’m 99, like my Grandma is—another pleasantly symmetrical age to be.

A year and a half ago I booked a plane ticket and raced home to be at my dying grandmother’s side. She was weak and frail and in hospital and this time she would not be going home to her apartment where she had lived alone for the past 30- or 40-something years.

Widowed at 49 and an empty nester by 53, Grandma had chosen to make the best of her independence.  She drove everyone around her crazy because she wouldn’t take their advice.

That’s what I love best about her.

She was waiting for me.  I held her hand and gave her the straight talk.  She didn’t like it.  I told her I didn’t like telling her, but that was that.  She just couldn’t take care of herself anymore.  She was so small and thin and her hospital gown was too loose. Her blue eyes took up most of her face. I didn’t think she would survive the night.

The next day she was sitting up in bed.Photo by Christopher Flowers on Unsplash

The day after that she was complaining about the food.

The day after that she was observing the other residents in her room as if she was watching a sitcom.

The next day she stole some of my French fries.

The day I left for home she told me she would see me again soon. And she vowed to reach 100.  I believe her.

Grandma is now in a nursing home where she is well fed and well cared for.  I eagerly wait for posted pictures from family visiting her and can’t believe the change in her.  She has gained 10 lbs and lost 10 years.  She fooled everyone.

Before I moved out here to the West, I visited Grandma every week.

“Going to see Gram, be back in a couple of hours,” I would tell my husband and he would reply,

“See you in four or five…and give her my love.”

I always stopped at the grocery store on my way in, ordered a bouquet of flowers wrapped as well as two eclairs with chocolate dripping down their sides.

Grandma and I talked for hours—she talked, I shouted because her damn hearing aids bothered her ears.

She always said to me, “Lori, I think you understand me best.”

We are symmetrical.

Photo by Rohit Tandon

The last time I visited her before moving West, I looked around her living room as if seeing it for the first time.  Every painting on her wall was of mountains.  She had lived in Vancouver as a young wife and mother and the West had stayed with her when she was forced back East.

I learn a lot from Grandma, which I will happily share in my next blog. First and foremost though is how to hang onto my organs for 99 years, or at least not to take them too seriously.


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