I thought my friend was being a bit hard on her poor nonagenarian grandfather-in-law. Sure, the road trip to Florida may not have been idyllic, but to place blame on him for giving her a cold?
For crying out loud. She works in a hospital. She should know how to avoid germs!
I actually felt bad for the guy. “You should have used antiseptic hand wash,” I said.
“I did!” my friend (let’s call her “Becca”) said, her response interrupted by intense coughing.
“Darn him!” she added, once again pushing the poor guy under the bus.
“He can’t help being sick,” I said.
Becca gave me a dirty look and blew her nose, “You don't understand," she said, "Grampa drinks Manhattans.”
"What? Did he get drunk and kiss you”
Becca cleared her throat, in an unsuccessful attempt to find her voice.
“OMG Becca!!!,” I said. “Did he slip you the tongue?”
“No.” she choked out. “Worse.”
I tried to think of what could possibly be worse than French kissing a 95 year old man with bronchitis. And between coughs and wheezing, Becca managed to tell me the story of Grampa. And his Manhattans.
Whereas some families have deep rooted traditions of stringing cranberries into garland. Or planting Mums in the fall. Or crocheting doilies..
This family’s traditions involved the children eating maraschino cherries left in the bottom of Grampa’s Manhattans.
When Grampa’s children left the nest, the tradition was passed along to the next generation. During family gatherings, grandchildren excitedly huddle around Grampa.
Waiting for him to finish his Manhattans.
Not surprisingly, sharing maraschino cherries with his ancestors brings Grampa great joy.
I can only imagine what was going through Becca’s head that day as she watched Grampa finish up his Manhattan. His nagging cough delaying the inevitable.
When he finally finishes, he momentarily sets down the glass so he can blow his nose, after which he hands the glass to Becca and says, “Lucky you! There’s two!”
And Becca, who would rather do anything than hurt someone’s feelings, including eating not one, but two germ-covered maraschino cherries, somehow managed to eat them both.
When Becca finished telling me the story she looked at me with her pathetic puffed up eyes and said, “See? I couldn’t help it.”
I was nearly speechless.
“You really need to teach Grampa how to crochet.”