Grandma

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“Happy birthday!” I sing into the phone, holding it out. I motion for him to chime in.
“Happy birthday,” he says dutifully.
“We love you!” I hang up the phone. I knew she would be out with her friends, but thought I might catch her in between parties. She is out being celebrated by many, many friends.
She is eighty six years old today…Grandma.

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She picks me up in the car she’s had for thirteen years, the car she will only take to the dealership for service, service that she takes care of religiously. The car smells of Pond’s and her perfume and a tinge of new car-ness. She is proud of herself for finding me, tells me she hasn’t been downtown in ages. She looks to me for direction and I point the way. We are on our way to pick up Cole at school.
“Now you know he’s gonna want ice cream,” she says. I don’t want to inconvenience her anymore than I already have, insist she just take us home. I know we will be stopping for ice cream…

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She had three little girls when her abusive husband walked out on her, leaving her with nothing. She worked her way up from bus driver to teacher in a special education facility. She kept a house and made sure those little girls had everything they needed, and she did it on her own. I wish I could be half as strong a woman as she is.

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We have always been close; when I was young it didn’t matter where she was going, I wanted to go with her. We went on trips, camping. I am her “baby girl” and she is my everything. When I tell my mom I’m running away, I am of course going to her. If I get in trouble for something, I beg my mom not to tell her. She thinks I’m perfect, and I don’t want to do anything to mar that picture.

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Yesterday I called and asked her for a favor, a ride, and without hesitation she asks where she should pick me up. I can always count on her, no matter what. But, she tells me, she has to hurry home because she has dinner plans. She has the most active social life of anyone I know. I am just grateful to be able to spend those few precious moments with her.

Happy Birthday Grandma.

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