When I was 9-years-old my mom told me my great grandmother was an Indian. I’m not sure I could tell you exactly what an elderly Indian looks like, but I’m sure she wasn’t it. It was a trick of course. A sleight of hand that my mom used to get me interested in something I hated; visiting the nursing home. Looking back, I think my mom was trying to get herself interested also.
Every Sunday was like Groundhog day with Bill Murray. I’d wake up and lie in bed trying not to breath. I was the best burglar on the planet and I refused to make a sound. If I did, if I exhaled too loudly or ruffled the covers aggressively, my mom might hear me one room over and punish me with church. The Smurf blue numbers on my digital clock moved as slow as global warming … but they moved. I’m saved, I’d think every time the clock actually made it to 9:01. Then, as if she’d been waiting until I started parading, I’d hear my mom stir and begin singing. Music was her alarm clock for me … really loud music that combined an ancient hymn with the last song she’d heard on the radio.
I hate church hymns.
Bad food bribery followed the sermon. As I dipped my chicken fingers in tangy barbecue, I’d smile a lot at the waitress, remember my “please’s” and “thank you’s,” and keep my elbows off the table. I figured I could out-behave nursing home hell. Back then my charm never worked, today isn’t much different.
The walk-way into the home my granny lived felt a lot like school on a Sunday. As soon as the double doors closed behind you, it felt like you’d traveled to another planet. One without sunlight that used old people in wheelchairs as pillars to keep the walls from falling. A planet that smelled like lysol, urine and cafeteria food. I swear the nurses laughed at the visitors adjusting to the new environment. It was like sleeping in the dark and someone flipping on a spotlight to wake you up.
I hated my mom for stealing my Sunday’s. I even hated my incoherent granny for living. Still, I could’ve handled all that. What really stuck in my side was my moms sisters. The ones who lived just down the road and never joined us.
“Why are we the only ones that have to go see granny,” I’d say every time.
“Because it’s the right thing to do,” my mom said.
My mom always taught the best lessons … I still hate singing in church.
3-30sec holds per side
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