My grandmother‘s short-term memory is not very reliable these days, and it can be tedious to maintain a smile when repeating something for the fourth time in even a brief conversation. It is no surprise to me that ninety-one years is a lot of life for one mind to catalog. In our history together she has been at once impossible, yet sometimes so easy to please.
I called her one morning to let her know I was coming for a visit, and asked if she needed anything She did not need milk or bread. She can exist for days on bread to toast for her apricot jam and milk to splash in her tea. I asked if she liked blueberries, since my daughter and I had just picked some. She likes blueberries in her pancakes, and asked if I could pick up some pancake mix. Of course I could. I put some berries in a small container, secured the lid, and left…as in left the house, and left the blueberries on the counter. I had forgotten the one thing that my grandmother was sure to remember from our chat. I did not realize my mistake until I was on the highway, and began to devise an alternate plan. .
It seemed pointless to show up with pancake mix if I did not have the blueberries to accompany it. Arriving empty handed felt wrong as well. Since I had to stop at the store for the pancake mix, I would just buy some locally picked blueberries, as somehow this gave the sense that they would be berries I very well could have picked. However, I couldn’t just show up with a pint of berries, as that would be far too many for her and possibly cause some suspicion. I started looking around the car for something I could put her portion of blueberries in that would be plausible as a carrier I brought from home. I had nothing. The first cup of blueberries I saw at the store was comically small, and she would never have believed that was all I brought. The next container was way too big. In my finest goldilocks move to find “just right”, I added something from the food storage aisle to my grocery list, and ended up sitting in the car pouring an appropriate amount of fresh produce into one of my five new pieces of plastic ware. There were no small pouches of pancake mix available, so I ended up buying a box that may last her the rest of her pancake making days at her one-pancake-makes-a-meal rate of consumption.
The whole business wasn’t much of a big deal, and my grocery tab was under ten dollars. I hope the blueberry pancakes she makes taste as good as the ones in her memories. I am sure my grandmother and I would have shared a laugh at my forgetfulness, but I was afraid the humor would be lost by the third time I might have had to remind her that no blueberry pancake fixings had arrived. It would have been like disappointing her over and over again. On the other hand, she may have taken some comfort in knowing that her mind is not the only one that tends to escape.
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