Once, when I was wee, and Pop was unpacking groceries, Gam asked,

“Pop–did you remember the Jello?”

“The what?”

“The Jello. J – E  – L L – O! (Sung like old commercial jingle.)

“Oh–I knew I forgot something.”

Gam threw her hands in the air and sang, “O – S  – HI  – T!”


“Even though the road is . . . shit.”

Hard stuff, yucky stuff, painful stuff–my grandma draws her strength from God. Even when she can’t talk.

Last time Patty and I were in PA, talking was getting really difficult. Many times, we could collect the point she was trying to make: that God was carrying her through the bad days. And when talking wasn’t working, she’d try to sing–the same song, over and over.

But she never made it farther than the first verse. She’d lose her words, forget the lyrics, stop to ponder, get really frustrated, try again . . .

Patty and I felt really bad that we couldn’t help her out. Obviously the song meant a lot to her. All we knew was that it had the word “road” in it–and also the word “shit.”

Which is kinda funny, since we were certain it came from church.

Only Gam can sing about Jesus and shit at the same time and get away with it.

“Even though the road is . . . (sigh).

“Even though the road is . . . long! No, no that’s not it.”

“Even though the . . . road . . . shit. I’m going to try again.”

“Even though the road is–oh, shit, Jenny, I can’t remember.”

We did some digging, and found it. It’s a song my aunt sang in church once that Gam just loves. It’s Mountain of God by Third Day.

The other day I called and my mom was able to put the phone up to her ear, and I sang the chorus. (Not well, at all. And had she been strong enough to mock me, I promise you she would have.)

Instead she just said “That’s the one!” and that it was beautiful.

She is a good liar, but this time I kind of believed her.

Thought that I was all alone, broken and afraid

But You were there with me

Yes, You were there with me.

And I didn’t even know that I had lost my way

But You were there with me

Yes, You were there with me

‘Til You opened up my eyes, I never knew

That I couldn’t ever make it without you

Even though the journey’s long

And I know the road is hard

Well, the One who’s gone before me

He will help me carry on

After all that I’ve been through

Now I realize the truth

That I must go through the valley

To stand upon the mountain of God

Why Sh*@#! is my Grandma’s Favorite Word

On a lighter note . . .

Even in the hospital, Gam is Gam.

My sweet cousin Becky gave me the run down on an awful (and awfully funny) evening in the hospital last night.

“Becky,” Gam asked. “Does Chad know that I like to say shit?”

“Um…yeah. He does.”

She turns to Chad–Becky’s husband.

“Chad, you know that I say shit?”

“Gam–come on. Everyone knows you say shit.”

Gam thinks for a moment.

“Well I just think it’s the most wonderful word. I mean think about it. There’s nothing that will get your point across quite like shit. ”

I imagine Becky and Chad looking at each other–half rolling their eyes, half laughing.

Gam keeps going.

“It fits every situation. Try it. Give me a situation where shit wouldn’t fit.”

“Ok,” Chad offers. “The nurses.”

Gam shakes her head. “No, something bad.”

“Ok. Your cancer.”

“Oh, shit!”

Apparently this went on for quite some time. Becky and Chad spouting off situations and circumstances; Gam demonstrating how shit can be perfectly applied and emphatically stated to get your point across just right. All of them laughing hysterically.

“There’s just something that happens when you say it,” she sighed. “It releases something–makes you feel better. I think it might be my favorite word.”

Then there was the bed.

They have beds in hospitals now that inflate and vibrate periodically to prevent hospice guests from getting bedsores. At one point, she leaned in close to Chad and whispered, “Heeeyyy…before you leave tonight, you might want to ask about taking one of these home for your house.”

Gam winked big.

Chad laughed.

“Gam–Becky and I don’t need one of those.”

“Oh that’s right. You’re young. You don’t need a fancy bed.”

And then there was the oxygen mask.

They had Gam hooked up to all kinds of breathing machines. She ended up separating the tube from the mask and “smoking it.”

“What?” she said in response to funny looks from the nurses. “It’s my peace pipe!”

Cricket Cricket Cricket

“Oh come on. Let me have a little fun here.”

Beck told me the nurses keep commenting on her–how much they love her, what a riot she is. “Oh everyone just loves your grandmother here.”

How could they not?

I doubt the nurses have ever seen someone with such spunk and such a cheerful attitude in such a shitty time.

(That’s right. I said it. I learn from the best. )


Gam’s meeting with her oncologist tomorrow.

“What’s he going to say?” she asks my dad. “I’m not taking any treatments.”

(She’s not. There’s nothing they can do for her.)

“Maybe he’s offering prizes.”

“Prizes?” She perks up. Gam’s real competitive.

“Maybe he has a contest for the patients with the best attitude.”

“Shit! I’ll win that hands down.”

Dirty Scrabble

Gam’s very excited that I’m coming to visit.

“We’ll have a big time!” She shouts. “We’ll play Dirty Scrabble!”

“Dirty Scrabble?”

I ask her what it is–even though I’m well aware. She plays it with my sister, Patty, and I’ve always been a little jealous. That I’ve been officially been invited to the club is an honor.

“Dirty Scrabble is just like regular Scrabble,” she explains.

“But you can only play dirty words. So, you can say ‘Poop!’ or ‘Crap!’ or even ‘Shit!’

Sometimes there’s just no other word that can get your point across like Shit, Jenny. It even makes you feel better to say it. Oh–and we drink beer!”

Looking forward to it.