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Grandmother Esther Raises the Stakes

By Paul | October 12, 2009

My Grandmother Esther was a neat elderly lady, well, not always elderly, I am sure at some point in her life she was young, but this story takes place after elderly became an accurate adjective. Life has a way of getting in the way of all the things we want to do and so I did not get to know her as well as I would have liked, particularly early in my life.

Later in life as my kids got older I made an effort, and it’s never really enough, but I made an effort to take my kids to visit her. I live in Cleveland Ohio, my beloved Cleveland, and she lived in Ravenswood, West Virginia. Ravenswood is as charming as a community can be when a massive aluminum plant is one of your primary industries. It has an old town, small town feel. Grandma Esther was at a small retirement home and as often happens in the elderly, her world does not synch up perfectly with the rest, but that’s OK; when we visited she was sweet and wonderful and she was my grandma. She always recognized me as family and as a Holland, though you were never sure which Holland. Usually I was Darrell, which narrows it down to my brother or my father, never Paul.

Enter Mary Holland, Mary is my first wife, and a dear neat person; also one of the co-stars of this story.

One weekend we headed for Ravenswood to visit my grandma Esther. We had our two boys and we picked her up from the retirement community and took her to Mom’s diner. I found out my diminutive sweet grandma could still eat a good bit, strangely enough I remember she ordered meatloaf, and we had a delightful, dinner.

After dinner I asked her if she wanted to go to the Dairy Queen and get some ice-cream, one of our favorite treats, and she said that would be fine. As we sat at the dairy Queen and I realized the evening was winding down and it would be time for us to head back to Cleveland, some four hours away, I asked Gram if there was anything she needed before we left and she said, “Well, I really could use some items from the department store across the way.” Into the car we hopped and off we went to the department store. I asked Gram what she needed and she said, well, I could use some stockings, hankies, and some “unmentionables.”

Mary quickly became the hero, as she put her arm around Gram and led her off to the store. I asked her to “get her anything she wants.” We outfitted her with all she asked for that evening. No big deal, things are not that expensive at small department stores in rural America. We dropped Gram off and headed back home.

End of story? Oh no, now comes the hook! Several days later I had dinner with my dad and he said, “How was your visit with your grandmother?” I shared some of the details but when I got to the department store portion of the story he grabbed my arm and said, “Oh God Paul, you didn’t buy her anything did you?” I replied, “Of course I did, those did not seem unreasonable requests, even if they were a tad unusual.” Oh Paul,” he said, “she didn’t need those things, the ladies play cards and when they gamble, that’s their currency!”


Let it be known, that for some period of time, thanks to Mary, my grandma could raise the stakes whenever she wanted!!!

Topics: Family, Funny, My Favorites | No Comments »

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