Grandma Judy’s Birthday

Grandma Judy had a birthday this week. She doesn’t care much for birthdays anymore and would prefer to forget them altogether, but people keep making her celebrate anyway.

Grandma Judy’s idea of a good birthday is finding an expensive present to buy herself. This year she bought TWO presents (because she deserves it): a silver bracelet from Turkey and a black corded clutch purse from the 1940s. These things help Grandma Judy feel a little less irritated about life. She bought some shoes, earrings and books too, which didn’t count as birthday gifts, but what the heck, she was out.

Grandma Judy’s family took her to Red Robin Gourmet Burgers for dinner, an excellent choice when your party includes five children under age eleven, including a toddler who gets mad if you put the wrong food in front of him. Grandma Judy finds her grandchildren highly amusing even when their parents do not.

Grandma Judy’s grandchildren gave her several wonderful homemade drawings to help her forget how much she doesn’t like birthdays. These children are the most precious things in her life. So if there is a lesson to be learned here, I guess it would be: if you are going to get older, better get yourself some grandkids. Also, there is no harm in surprising yourself with a nice birthday gift.


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Not My Coat

Something is wrong. I have this full-length black wool coat. I’ve probably had it for three to five years. I pulled it out of the closet a couple of weeks ago, put it on and said, “This is not my coat.”

For one thing, it felt too big. And there were three buttons down the front, while I’m pretty sure my coat had two. Also, there were little flaps on the pockets and a belt in back that I don’t recall being there before.
This must be Jessica’s coat, I thought. She must have taken mine and left her coat here by mistake. I called my oldest daughter. “You have my coat,” I said.
“You have my black wool coat. You must have gotten it confused with yours the last time you were over.”
“I don’t think so,” she said. “I just dropped my coat off at the cleaners.”
“You mean you dropped off my coat at the cleaners,” I said. “Thanks.”
“No, I remember the lining and the hole in the pocket.”
I pressed on. “Well, does it have two buttons or three?”
“I don’t know. Two I guess.”
“Is there a belt in back and flaps on the pockets?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
She took a shot:  “I think Gina has a black wool coat. Maybe the one you have is Gina’s.”
“Maybe,” I said, but I figured she was just looking for a way to hang up.
I called daughter Gina. “You have my coat,” I said.
“You have my black wool coat. You must have gotten it confused with yours the last time you were here.”
“I don’t own a black wool coat,” she said. “I have a black leather coat.”
“Really?” I said. “Because the coat I have is too big for me. Also, it has three buttons down the front and a belt in the back and little flaps on the pockets.”
“Sorry, not mine,” she said.
I had to believe her.
I wore the coat to work and stood in front of my coworkers.
“I don’t think this is my coat,” I said.
“What? Why?” asked Linda.
I explained about the buttons and the belt and the little pocket flaps.
“That is not your coat,” said Ann, who has opinions on things. “That coat is too big for you, and yours was better material.”
“Right!” I said. We agreed that Jessica must be mistaken. Or trying to pull a fast one.
Linda was noncommital. You’d think she didn’t care.
Last weekend my middle daughter, Jill, stopped by. “Do you have a black wool coat?” I asked.
“Because I have this coat and I don’t think it’s mine. My coat had two buttons and this one has three. And it has a belt in back and flaps on the pockets.”
“Maybe you’re getting Alzheimer’s,” she suggested.
“What?! No!”
“I could use a new winter coat,” she said.
I got a voicemail from Jessica saying she had picked up her coat at the dry cleaners – same lining, same hole in the pocket. I had to conclude that it probably wasn’t mine.
I took the coat I have out of the closet and tried it on again. It might be my coat. But I don’t think so.

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Shopping With Maria

It’s been a long time since I went shopping with a preteen girl. I tried it yesterday and remembered why God created menopause; i.e., ten or twelve years after giving birth, you have to take them shopping. This requires more fortitude than you’re likely to have.

Maria and I hadn’t spent any quality time together for a while, so she came over in the afternoon and stayed the night. We had pedicures and she had a manicure (tiny white flowers on every pink nail), got something to eat and went to Target to get her a new outfit. We started in the Girls’ department, but as she’s several inches taller than me now, ended up in Juniors.

Needless to say, the things she was pulling off the racks bore little resemblance to anything I had in mind. We headed to the fitting room with armloads of clothes; then it was just me running back and forth like a mad gopher. This went on for about two hours.

Maria liked everything she tried on no matter how inappropriate. She was particularly smitten with a little black and white striped number that looked like something out of Sweet Charity. Didn’t keep count, but I believe I said “Your mother will kill me if I buy you that” around fifty times. It isn’t easy getting through to an eleven-year-old girl. It’s like the words float out over their heads somewhere and only reach their ears on an intermittent basis.

She was sweet about it though. The pleading was minimal and she never broke into tears. I’m not her mother, after all. Eventually we compromised on a pair of navy blue leggings, a sheer, flowered tunic and a tank top to go underneath. Middle ground to be sure, and she still could pass for fifteen in it.


Dear God: This is Judy. Thank you for menopause.

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