Friday, November 04, 2005

The Best Practical Joke I Played on my Grandmother, Shortly Before She Died

Today is my grandmother's birthday. Had she lived, she would be 98 today. She died in 2000. I still miss her.

Since it's her birthday, I figured it would be a good day to tell this story.

My grandmother was quite the character. Smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish her whole life. She and I were very close, as she lived with my parents and me from the time I was two. Oh, and she had a thing about snakes. HATED them. Still makes me smile when I think about the time I put that realistic rubber snake behind her when she was sitting on her bed playing solitaire. I just walked out, whistling a happy tune, and waited. A few minutes later I heard the scream. Let me say, I believe that she broke the 'old lady landspeed record' that day.

But that is not the story I came here to tell. That other one was twenty-five years ago. This one was in the winter of 2000.

My grandmother lived in a nursing home in Cape Breton. Her legs had failed, so she mostly sat in a wheelchair. On this particular weekend, I was coming back to Cape Breton for a visit.

As I arrived in the parking lot of the nursing home, I called her on my cell phone. I told her how I was sorry, but that I wasn't able to come home this weekend after all. She's all, "Oh, that's too bad, dear" and I was all, "Yeah, it's a drag, but hopefully I will make it up soon" while I'm actually walking down the hall toward her room.

As I enter her room, I see her, sitting in her wheelchair, completely focused on the phone on the table next to the head of her bed. I walk behind her wheelchair and have a seat on her bed, still having the "I'm sorry I couldn't come" conversation. I figure she'll notice me anytime now. But she doesn't. Her vision isn't the greatest any more, maybe her hearing is a little reduced too... but in any case, she is totally oblivious to me sitting maybe three feet away from her.

At this point I ask myself, should I:
(a) Stop this cruel joke now, or
(b) Find some amusing way to take things to the next level?

Naturally, I choose (b).

I say to her, "Hey, I forgot to tell you... I got this cool new phone that lets me SEE who I'm talking to!"

"Oh?", she says.

"Yeah, it's great. I'm looking at you right now! That's a nice blouse you're wearing, by the way. Are those flowers on it? The picture's not too clear but I can make them out pretty well!"

Then I compliment her on the pants she has on too, and describe them to her. She has TOTALLY bought into my story by now, saying stuff like, "Oh, these old things!" and smoothing her clothes down and everything.

I figure the time has come to give her a way out. When she moves her wheelchair backwards slightly, I say, "Careful! You almost ran over my foot!" She says, "What?", to which I reply, "Look over your shoulder."

She looks over the wrong shoulder.

And returns to the phone.

I say, "No, your OTHER shoulder."

She looks at me. I burst into laughter.

She says, "You BASTARD!!!".

I nearly wet my pants.

She says, "I should punch you right in the mouth!"

And there you have it. The last, and probably best, joke I ever played on my grandmother. She passed away in the summer of that year. Threw a blood clot or something, and it was all pretty quick, so I'm happy about that.

And I'm pretty certain it wasn't related to the joke. Gulp.

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