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The doorbell rings in that special way.. DING DING DING.. I’m HERE and it’s GRAMMIE. Her ring is different from that of my mother-in-law, Mimi, who’s dings are quicker but more than just three. My father-in-law, Bapa, lets himself in, no dings. So, two points for the ladies!

Today’s visit was her first with our new seven-month-old labradoodle, Murphy, who still likes to graze your hand with his teeth. There is never a bite, just a feel and a liiiittle taste. She’s used to little dogs, outside dogs and the farm dogs of her youth. Big dogs in the house are a thing foreign to her and her control. We now have two and they absolutely steal the show. I can’t remember a visit where she hasn’t griped at our six-year-old goldendoodle, Piper, for stepping on her toes. Piper weighs all of 65 lbs. Anyway, they met her at the door, so the first half of the visit was spent with me saying “No, Murphy” 500 times in a row. He is perfect in every way but we all tend to fall a little short in the presence of the Queen.

We make our way into the house a bit and while she’s talking about her allergies and looking around, I take down my ugly bun, finger comb my hair real quick and twist it back up into something more presentable. As she then engages Lauren, my twenty-year-old first-born, in some cute boyfriend speak, I run into the kitchen to throw all the dirties into the sink, do a quick sweep of the trash laying around and put the spices and medicine bottles that constantly find their way onto the counters back into the cabinets where they belong. I take a peek into the playroom. Whew. Looks good.

She wants to wash the “dog off my hands” and is too fast to the guest bathroom for me to beat her there, but I know from the tone of the sigh that the state of the bathroom is unacceptable. I ask what’s wrong, she says the soap looks yucky and she needs paper towels. I assure her the soap is fine (it’s lovingly handmade by my father-in-law, scented with essential oil and is the best stuff on earth, lady, so one point for the gentlemen!) and I bring her a clean hand towel with my left as I flush down the resting mellow yellow with my right. Lord have mercy. My children.

Down the hall five feet, I see Murphy’s fun-time socks (the boy loves socks) strewn all over my bedroom floor so I say “Murphy! Look at ALL your SOCKS! Let’s put them in your basket, buddy!” (a mistake, y’all, but I’m subtly trying to steer her away from my room) and she says “Murphy eats good socks?!?” Once again I assure her that these particular socks are no longer necessary as Grey, my fourteen-year-old, finished his soccer career last season. His old socks are not indeed being wasted but are a lovely FREE toy for the dogs. No one would want them, anyway. (I’M NOT WASTING, OK?!?) She then, despite my best blocking efforts, makes her way to the door of my bedroom so she can scannnnnnnn——- and I say “Mom! Out!” She (with her best “I’m CAUGHT” voice) asks why, she LOVES my room but I try to remember if there’s anything in there that can later be used against me in a court of Grammie.

We make our way to the living room and she asks where that chair came from. I tell her it’s the same chair that’s been in the house forever, just without a slipcover and she decides she likes it and is positive that it looks better now without the cover.

She sits on the trunk being used as a side table instead of the giant sectional sofa because the couch is “too deep” and we talk about her friend who got a cat for $5 because she happens to be a city worker. She thinks maybe she could also get two cats for $10 if her friend comes along and if they say it’s Grammie’s birthday. I tell her that they would probably LOVE to give her cats, that’s what the SPCA is for, no need to fib or wait till November. She says she wants to ask for the return of a cat cage she gifted a friend some ten years ago, along with any possibly unused cat toys she gifted along with it, and (to save her poor friend some face) I say that my brother has a cage and I THINK we can manage a few new toys for the two, maybe-in-her-future, cats. Her memory is long, unless it’s a date or time or ANYTHING I tell her. For things given, she ALWAYS remembers and keeps tabs for life or longer. It’s pretty stressful and we currently have a big dumpster in our driveway that we are PURGING into, including some things given to us by my mom. I hope it dodged her prying eyes but I can’t be sure as I didn’t go so far as to watch her drive away. The dumpster is in our OTHER driveway (yeah, we have two, it’s another blog post) so she would have had to stop. I’m prayerful here.

She wants to know when we are taking Jeff to school in New York because she has a doctor’s appointment on the 13th that can’t be trusted to a friend. Throat scopes are reserved for family only. I say I’ll absolutely take her, no problem, knowing that I’ll have to reserve the whole day for her because a visit to the doctor turns into a cleaning of the kitchen, a wiping down of the bathroom and a tour of the house with a stack of sticky notes to secure my name onto the bottom of all the items I want when she dies. While my brother refuses this practice and assures her we’ll deal with when we need to, I EAT IT UP. The more things with a name, the less stress she has about where it will all go (whether or not I actually do end up with it) and the less guessing she will have while playing the tabs game that is her life and her future heavenly occupation. And besides, it’s fun for me;) God bless her, though, she’s plagued with giver’s remorse. I’m super mean and love to always let her know that once I give her a gift, it’s HER’S and not mine. I recently gave her three bracelets that I picked up at a market in London and she asked if she should give them back to me because they made the bony parts of her wrists hurt. I told her that those were HER’S and she could do with them whatever she liked and she said well, *I gave them to her. Yes, I GAVE them to her. Please give them to a friend. Donate them. Throw them away. I wasn’t sad. They belonged to HER and there are no strings attached to any or all gifts given to her by my hand. She knows this is a lesson I’m trying to get across and says thank you in a patronizing way. It’s very hard to teach old dogs but I love a good challenge.

Finally, bless her heart, she’s had enough. She asks me for a hug, tells me I’m sweet, tells Lauren and the dogs goodbye, and she goes, hopefully without a look into the dumpster. I sigh deeply, remind myself how very blessed I am to still have my precious little Momma in my life, I pick up this laptop before I forget and I thank the Lord she doesn’t understand the internet.

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