There she sits in her wheelchair, staring out blanking toward the window. Slowly she turns to look at me and says, “What…is those pimples on your face?” She is completely out of it, does not know who she is or where she is at…which happens to be the nursing home. However, she still has the wherewithal to point out my deficiencies. That is Nana, always ready with a criticism, a slap on the back of the head or a quick command, usually about food, and how she has not had enough of it. So as I think about what this overweight, short, dark-haired, Sicilian woman has just said to me, I am reminded of a Nana story that should be written down for posterity, or at least for those who need a good laugh.
Back in the late 1990′s, when she was 82 years old, and still somewhat functional she and my Nano moved away from the quiet idyllic West Tampa street, whose name is pronounced like one of those songs I listened to in the 80′s. From Aileen Street, having reached a point where the need for supervision was too great, the old farts moved in with my parents. After many calls to my Mother, due to car accidents, lost false teeth and heart attacks, with a side of Checkers fries, it was decided that they would be dragged from that cocoon of delusion to the red hills of North Georgia. This move was considered ”short-term” since they both were already as old as the hills they were moving to.
As I just said, this move was supposed to be short term…but 11 years later, one down (Nano died in 2003) and my parents were still wiping ass, which is ironic since they were cleaning up ass longer than Nana had changed my Mother’s diapers. (I have gone off on a tangent.)
Well, Nana and Nano had lived at my Mother’s house a few years. Nana was still able to walk and get things on her own, but she really should have used her walker. The time is late, early morning around 1 am, and she is getting up for yet another feeding. As usual, she wobbled up to the refrigerator, sans walker, and proceeded to open both the fridge door and the freezer door, thereby getting a better view of what the appliance had to offer. As she was deciding which morsel she was going to partake of, the pudding or the frozen cherries, her balance was thrown off by the enormous weight of her ass and like an ancient oak being felled, both the old lady and the refrigerator toppled to the floor. I often think of this happening in slow motion, with Nana falling backwards like some sort of villain in a Mel Gibson action movie, the fridge coming down on top of her. Both the freezer and refrigerator doors remained open and fortunately, the freezer door had stayed open at a 90 degree angle, holding the fridge slightly aloft keeping the full weight of the large appliance off the old hungry woman; the enormous girth of the stomach area receiving some pressure from the shelving inside the fridge as she lay there. Slowly, some of the contents of the fridge started to spill out, namely an open can of evaporated milk and a bowl of grapes.
My parents quickly came into her room to investigate the tremendous tremor that shook the house and woke them up. Luckily for Nana, several of the grapes where within her reach, so she did at least have something to snack on while my Father worked carefully to get the fridge off of her. Yes, picture it, the woman was picking up and eating the grapes that had spilled out onto the floor, if she could reach them, they were gobbled up. My Father had to get the winch off of the old Suzuki, so that he would be able to drill it onto the wall and lift the heavy appliance off Nana without the freezer door collapsing and causing the full weight of the fridge to crush her. Nana was not concerned at all, she continued to graze off the floor, eating grapes, while the activity of securing the fridge went on around her.
As my parents got the fridge off of Nana, the full comedic scope of this story came into view. Nana’s robe was open and each boob, which was the size of a large eggplant, was resting on either side of her body. She was covered in white evaporated milk that had pooled up in the center of her chest, and streamed down the sides of her fat rolls. She was lying in a puddle of thick milk; but the best part was where the full unused stick of butter was resting…as if placed there deliberately, right between her fat thighs. Words cannot express the scene. Here she was spread out on the floor, naked breast facing in either direction…covered in thick white fluid, eating grapes off the floor, with a stick of butter between her legs.
When they finally got her cleaned up, and back into bed, Nano calmly said to her, “Jay, you fell down?”