Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…


Tomorrow, I will do a quick recap of our month in the Andes, but first, a brief digression…

My grandmother is 93-years-old.  She lives about 10 minutes from us, in her own apartment, in a building now owned by a local university.  Most of her neighbors are 19-year-old students.  She spends the bulk of her time knitting hats for the Ronald McDonald House while watching the History Channel or yelling at conservative talk radio commentators.  She thinks that 2008 saw the worst presidential campaigns in her lifetime.  I remind her that she lived through the Teapot Dome Scandal.

Brent and I flew back to Philly last night, and this evening, we went over to my parents’ house to say hello.  In the course of the conversation, I mentioned to my mom that I had called my grandmother earlier in the day, and she hadn’t answered the phone.  While this was a bit unusual, it was hardly noteworthy.  Still, the fact that she didn’t call back was curious, and so my mom gave her a call to check in.

When the machine picked up for the second time of the day, my mom decided that we should drive over there, to make sure everything was okay  So, at 9:00 PM, Brent, my dad, my mom, and I piled into the car and headed off to grandma’s.

Along the way, we speculated about where she might be.

“She’s playing beer pong in the social hall,” Brent said.

“I was thinking poker,” my dad joked.

“She always says she likes to chase her liquor with a beer,” I noted of my tee-totaling Bubby.

We let ourselves into the building, walked up to her apartment, and listened at the door.

“The TV isn’t on,” said my mom.

I pointed up.  “There’s a cobweb across the door.”

My mom took out her key to unlock the door, and paused.  “I can’t do this,” she said unsteadily.

She stepped back, and my dad let us in.

All the lights were off.

My dad walked into the bedroom.  Then the bathroom.  Then the kitchen.


Brent opened the door to the balcony.

No one.

The fridge was full, the air conditioning was running, and the postcard I’d sent her from Peru was sitting on the table.

“Well,” my mom said incredulously, “I guess she’s out.”

We started to leave, when Brent suggest we check the social hall, which my grandmother had proudly shown us several months earlier.

We walked down the hall, opened the door, and found my 4′ 8″ grandmother sitting in the middle of the vast room with two friends – their weekly “discussion group.”

“What are you doing here?” she asked nonchalantly.

We explained – delicately – that we were worried that something had happened to her.  To this, she laughed and said, “Oh, we’re just sitting here yente-ing.”

“Did you see how they pushed the beer pong table against the wall?” Brent whispered when we left a few minutes later.

“Why do you think there was a cobweb across her door?” I wondered aloud.

“Well, she is really short,” Brent responded.

We walked out to the car and headed for home.

“Who knew ‘yente’ could be a verb?” my dad said.


One response to “Yente-ing

  1. Denise July 21, 2010 at 7:28 am

    you had me worried!! my grandmother is 94, 95 this september and still going strong. we had her in the pool this wknd! she doesn't take a single medication and has a cocktail every night. she is the backbone of our family…all 100+ of us. 🙂 I'm glad your grandmother was ok!!oh, and welcome home!

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