Mummy stuff

The man in Grandma’s bed

The knock on the door must have fallen on deaf ears. Taking a deep breath, I push the handle down and step inside, prepared to be overwhelmed by the sweet smell of rotten flowers and stale air.

‘Hello Grandma.’ I bend down and wrap my arms around the old lady’s shoulders, resting my cheek against hers.

‘Hello.’ The old lady squints.

I ignore the puzzled look on her face and turn around to open a window. ‘How are you?’

‘Who brought these?’ She points at the bouquet in my hand. It’s still wrapped in paper.

‘The flowers?’ I force myself to laugh. ‘Me.’ Oh please, don’t do that to me. Please don’t. ‘Do you like them?’ Spinning around myself to locate a vase in the tiny space of her room, my clumsy fingers tear a hole into the wrapping.

‘They are beautiful.’ Grandma says absentmindedly. ‘You!’ She reaches for the hook that dangles above her bed and lifts herself up. ‘Dr Young! You remind me of someone.’

‘Grandma, are you ok?’ My shoulders sink. I am trying hard to hide the worry in my voice.

‘Dr Young, you really look like my granddaughter Deborah.’ She smiles. ‘She’s married and lives in England.’

A hoarse sound that bears vague resemblance to laughter escapes my throat. ‘But Grandma! I am your granddaughter Deborah!’

She looks at me from the corner of her eye. Suddenly, her face lightens up. ‘Goodness gracious!’ She smiles broadly. ‘I think I am going completely meshugge!’ Her delicate hair sways gently from side to side as she shakes her head. It looks like baby hair. ‘But the similarity really is astounding. Well, at least you have something amusing to write into your diary now.’

‘I sure will.’ I grin and move a chair closer to her bed. ‘How have you been, Grandma?’

‘I am ok.’ She looks around carefully. ‘However, I am afraid Arthur is becoming a little peculiar in his dotage.’

‘Arthur?’ My eyebrow shoots up. ‘What’s wrong with Arthur?’

She sighs. ‘I don’t know. He has changed. A lot.’

‘Why? What happened?’ I fidget in my chair.

‘He just doesn’t talk. Does not say hello or goodbye, no please and no thank you. Just stands in the middle of the room and stares at me.’

The hair on the back of my neck stands up. ‘And where is he now?’

She looks around again. ‘Gone. The cheek!’ She giggles. ‘He always does that. As soon as someone else enters the room, he sneaks out the back door. Good that he’s gone now.’

‘Why’s that good?’

‘Why?’ Her gaze falls on the light brown corduroy cushion next to her pillow. ‘This bed has become a little too small recently.’

Grandma and her husband Arthur have been married for more than 60 years. He died in August 2008 and is dearly missed.


  1. Kelleyn says

    How sad and sweet at the same time. Your grandmother is lucky yo have such a sweet granddaughter like you who visits all the time.

  2. I’m sure he is looking after her, and that they still have their connection after 60 years of marriage. That must have been a strange feeling for you?

  3. Whatever the reason, it is a comfort to know that your Grandma isn’t feeling lonely don’t you think?

  4. My grandma used to call out for my grandpa after he died. It was difficult to witness but a testament to the many wonderful years they had together.

  5. How nice to think that he is actually with her, when her visitors aren’t.

    Beautifully written. I feel quite choked.

  6. What a touching story. I feel quite teary. Sixty years of marriage, you must be constantly thinking of things to tell the other person and she still can.

  7. What a sweet story about your grandma. Sounds like she had a wonderful marriage to Arthur too

  8. That’s really sweet and sad. It reminded me of my great grandmother before she passed away. She didn’t recognize us anymore but she remembered when we were little. I hope you keep writing, you’re such a great writer.

  9. Hi from a fellow novelist/mommy blogger across the pond:
    Stumbled on your blog from your comments on NW mom’s blog. (-: So glad I found it. Poignant writing on your gran…and btw that’s a high-compliment to have your writing likened to Hemingway’s! Not bad. I must try and see who the website compares mine to. Bye for now. A. (-:

  10. Stumbled here through Planethalder . What a beautiful post and how poignant without veering off towards maudlin .My gran used to see her husband too at the oddest times and generally when we werent around . They must have been so much in love . Thanks for a beautiful read .

  11. What a lovely post. I’ve recently lost my grandmother who had dementia and can totally relate. xx

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