The Boob Stealer

Once upon a time, I was helping my grandma get ready for bed. Warm jammies, cold water, feet tucked in tight. Suddenly, she looked down at her thinning frame and shouted, “Eek! Somebody stole my boobs!”

I chuckle.

“Oh really. Who?”

She looked me in the eye and whispered, with confidence,

“The Boob Stealer.”

—-

They say that cancer and death and sick trays in styrofoam tins can do a number on your mental capacity. You see things, hear things, believe things that simply aren’t.  Maybe this was the start.

Her eyes got big. “You’ve never heard of the Boob Stealer?”

I bit my lip to keep from laughing–honestly, maybe even from crying–but she didn’t seem to think it was funny. In fact, she hadn’t broken her gaze. And suddenly, it dawned on me . . . she wasn’t losing her marbles.

She was trying to tell me a bedtime story.

I may have changed her clothes and checked machines and brought her water–but I was still the grandkid. And despite pain, protruding tubes and cannulas, she’s still the Grandma. How very Ninja of her.

So I nuzzled in close, like a little girl.

“The Boob Stealer,” she continued, “is a very evil man.”

“Uh oh.”

“He doesn’t like women, you see. And he doesn’t think they should have boobs. So he steals them.”

“Really. So where do they go?”

“Into the trash can.”

“Wow.”

“And once they go in, you can never get them out.”

“That’s a bummer.”

She nods.

“In fact,” she went on, “he’s the same one who steals your socks.”

This explains a lot. I don’t know what some creeper is doing with boobs and single socks, but I kept listening and cherishing every word. It’s so hard for her to talk and it takes so long for the words to come out that they feel like a present.

A strange, slightly inappropriate-for-children present.

Together, we devised a plan to trap the evil villain so Gam could get her boobs back. We decided that the best way to do it would be feeding him a soggy clam boat from Friendly’s.

(Gam was very upset about the quality of her clam boat dinner. They even forgot the Happy Ending.)

It didn’t take long before she was mid-sentence fading. So I kissed her forehead, dimmed the lights and said goodnight.

It was good to feel like a (grand) kid again.

And good to remind her that she’s still my Gam.

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Lucky.

“Was that your grandma on the phone?”

There’s a coworker at my desk. Lord knows for how long.

“Yeah. Sorry, did you need something? All yours–”

She claps her hands like a little girl. “Can I just say that I love the relationship you have with her? It’s so sweet. So, so cute.”

Her hands are still clasped under her chin. And her eyes are bright. And I’m instantly brought back to summer after summer at The River, and Chris’ Pool, and Crabbing and cupcakes and ridiculous songs made up on the spot.

In that moment, we’re both little girls again. And I smile back with a million memories, and a million more reasons to be thankful.

“It is pretty cute, huh. Kinda weird, but–”

She shakes her head a little, interrupting.  Still grinning. And I’m suddenly aware of the little souls in the big girls that still long for the same.

“You’re friends.”

“. . . we are.”

“I love that.”

“Yeah. I’m pretty lucky.”

—–And so I’m blogging. Always wondered what it would take to get me to do it. Until that one phone call that you happen to pick up in the middle of Albertson’s in the middle of a Colorado snowstorm in the middle of a perfectly normal day that tells you that memories are precious, and that you’re loved, and that Gammy’s in the hospital. Right there, between half-off Progressive soup and the full-on silence on the other end of the phone. Smack dab in the middle of dodged-call regret and the urge to jump on the next plane to Philadelphia. Because when it all comes down, as she always said, “Family is the most important thing you’ll ever have.” And you finally believe her.