Ninja Trait #6: Good Health

“Want a bite of my salad, Gam?” 

“Nope. It looks good for me.”

“Oh my word, try one of these strawberries.”

“They’re good for you. I don’t eat stuff like that.”

“Come on. Just one bite of this.”

“Jennifer, how many times do I have to tell you. I don’t do healthy.”

She never really has. And oddly, it’s never really shown.

A few months ago, before any of the shenanigans even started, my 90 lb. Gam called and scared the holy cats out of me–breathing heavily, sounding weak and confused.

“Jenny. I need you to pray for me . . . please?”

“Gam-what’s wrong? You OK?”

“Yes . . . yes . . . with the help of the Lord, I’ll be OK. Oh, help me Jesus . . . ”

“GAM! Do you need to pull your cord? Do you need help?”

“I’ll be OK, Jenny. Just please pray . . . [deep breath]

“Gam I need you to tell me what’s going on or I will call the hospital for you . . . ”

She interrupted me with this little tidbit.

“Jenny, I just ate a whole cheese burger. French fries. An onion ring. A chocolate shake, and a slice of raspberry cheese cake. I’m just not feeling too good.”


At the time everyone was noticing how quickly she was loosing weight–no matter how many nights she OD’d on carbs and cheesecake. Eating and eating and dropping and dropping.  Even with the cakes on her door and the chocolate milkshakes (she orders two chocolate milkshakes every night that they send up in little styrofoam cups), she keeps getting smaller.

It’s cause of the cancer. Everything she eats, the cancer eats. It’s like eating for two. Only your baby is really ugly and everyone hates it and instead of feeling it kick, you want to kick it in the ass.

My mom says she hasn’t always been such a beanpole-but I’ve never seen a picture that proves otherwise. I just remember bony hands that are exactly like mine and ankles that were never any bigger than my wrist. And lots and lots of junk food.

The run-down of Gam’s fridge in Delaware was pretty predictable:

Chocolate cupcakes, white frosting: Made special and kept in the freezer

3-layer Jell-O cups

Tropicana OJ (huge treat for us)

Chips Ahoy (the ones in the red bag)

Entimenn’s Coffee Cake

Lays potato chips (ridges)

Water Ice (lemon and cherry)

Walnut fudge brownies (in a tin)

Chinese Almond Cookies (for me)

Peanut Butter Captain Crunch (for Patty)

Frostee Paws (for the dogs)

There were times when she could put away a whole Grotto’s pizza, down 13 donuts (so she says), and ice cream cones from Hockers that were half a foot tall.

Once I came back from a 2-week trip to Grandma’s having put on so much weight my mom said she didn’t recognize me. (I wonder why?) Nowadays she says she doesn’t recognize herself.

“Jenny, this morning I pulled up my dungarees and they fell right down to the floor.”

I told her we’d need to go shopping for cute underwear if she’s going to be marching around all-indecent. She says only if we can pick up some spaghetti and sausage on the way back.

“Jenny I ate so much tonight that I’m waddling like a duck. And I don’t know if anybody will believe me, but I truly think that I put on a little bit of weight. Just a little bit.  And I don’t know if anyone can tell, but I can. And that counts.”

She sighs and gets real for a moment.

Tells me she’s tired of eating. Tired of feeding the cancer. Wonders what the point is.

Then right back to Gam.

“Oh well! Who feels like a milkshake?!”