Fetching Cokes and Ice Cream: Life Cycles and Granny Chronicles

Fetching Cokes and Ice Cream: Life Cycles and Granny ChroniclesCycles. Life is cycles.


In the very first post I ever wrote for Houston Moms, I mused over the similarities of old folks and children. The experiences written, my real life. Life and times with my grandmother. Just about anyone who knows me – knows her and affectionately refers to her as Granny. My whole life she has been everyone’s Granny. That first post was entirely lighthearted. Reading it now is just sweet memories. I still smile reading them, but the feeling is different. This post… acknowledges how things have changed.

Just like with babies and children, the days seem to go by so much faster the further into the years we move. And just as I did with my children, I am begging time to slow down. She is 96 now. Ninety-six. Grammar rules say I should write her age in numerals… not words. Numerals for numbers greater than ten. But the words {ninety-six} just feel so much more meaningful.

She doesn’t move like she used to move. Sometimes she stumbles when she walks. I watch her. Discreetly. I try not to let her see me… watching her. Because I know she doesn’t like it. But I want to be able to catch her if I think she is going to fall.

Her hands aren’t so steady. She has a tremor that gives her the blues. She always asks for a spoon to eat now. And when she pulls out her checkbook, she still signs her name – but all the other parts – are my job now.

We all repeat things. A lot. Her – because she does not remember telling us. Us – because she does not remember that we’ve told her. I used to try to remind her. Until I saw the frustration on her face. Reminding her is useless; it was more for me than her anyway. Now, I just pretend every time is the first time.

Losing her independence is maddening to her. The walker near the door of her room sits collecting dust. Except when she stores books atop it. Or one of her grands decides to sit in it when visiting her room. We serve her meals in her bed. And Cokes. And ice cream. These two items… are the staples that I believe have kept her alive for so long. She accepts when we come bearing these gifts, but she is always going to tell us that she could have done it herself.

Words sometime escape her. I see her trying to remember. I help with the words when I can. It’s not uncommon for her to call me by my mother’s name. Or my daughter’s name. I answer. I know she is talking to me. 

We try not to leave her home alone for too long. Things that used to come easily for her are not always easy anymore. Her cell phone. The microwave. The remote control. The thought of her struggling with any one of them is really just {for lack of a better word} hard.

Her tongue is still slick. Hell raiser and trouble maker are still fitting alternative terms of endearment for her. The smart comments and sense of humor remain – even if the jabs are coming at less frequent intervals. 

When she sleeps, I check on her. I always linger at the door long enough to make sure I see the rise and fall of her chest. I am scared to death of the day I won’t.


I am 50 years old. My kids are 24, 22, and 15 years of age. All beyond numbers as words – and into numbers as numerals. We have lived our entire lives with this woman as a fixture in our homes and in our lives. Basking in the unconditional love of the old lady. She will be 97 years old next month. Not many of us get to keep a grandparent {let alone a great grandparent} for this long. We are so fortunate to still have Granny. I know we are.

So, I feel guilty saying it’s not enough. And wanting more time. With every noticeable change, I feel like I am one degree closer to losing her. The thought of – the absence of Granny – is paralyzing to me. I know it is a part of life. I know it. But. As ready as she may be, I am not. Nothing in me believes that I will ever be. So for now, I will keep at it. Happily. Cherishing every day. Praying for time to slow down. Watching the rise and fall of her chest. Fetching Cokes and ice cream. And standing by to catch her if it looks like she may fall.

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Joi was born and raised in San Antonio. After a brief pit stop at the University of Texas in Austin, Joi moved to Houston in 1994 and began checking boxes off her never ending to do list. During this time and in no particular order, Joi taught a little bit of everything between first and eighth grades, got married and then divorced, completed grad school, birthed a few babies – Ferris {November 1997}, Warren {December 1999} and Laylah {March 2006}, moved an old lady into her home – Granny {January 1925} started working in Human Resources, served an excessive amount of time (on boards, in booster clubs, team momming) as a crazy sports momma, and learned a lot of life lessons. Joi is known for her unabashed honesty, always present sense of humor and her #TeamTooMuch style of doing everything. On most days, you can find her caught up in her love/hate relationship with politics, feeding her Facebook addiction, or counting the number of days until her last child graduates from high school.


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