As I mentioned just before the children’s story appeared in the newspaper, Granny Conlin is the author of that story. I also told you that knowing how old I am, you could only imagine how old she is.
She has moved down from Lockport, New York, to shelter in place with me, Nurse Judy and Beebe, the cat. I’m sure this kind of thing is happening all over our country because of the pandemic.
Still, I hope those other families are adjusting better than we are. We have a big house, but it suddenly feels very crowded.
If you are a frequent reader of my column, you are likely well aware of how Nurse Judy, my egotistical alter ego, constantly degrades me. It’s a wonder I have any sense of self-worth at all living with her, but over the years I have almost gotten used to her. I am able to throw off many of the derogatory comments I get from her and live a fairly normal life.
Beebe is a bit easier to deal with although his independence streak often has me running in circles. Just what he’s demanding at the moment can be confusing and he has gotten into the habit of giving me a swat or a bite on the shin when he’s unhappy with my response.
Nevertheless, the three of us, minus Granny, have been able to cope most of the time and our adventures have given me lots of fodder for this column.
Granny is a whole new entity. She dismisses Nurse Judy as a figment of my imagination – a leftover from imaginary playmates I had as a child. I can’t complain to her about Nurse Judy’s behavior because she scolds me for allowing my imagination to run amok.
Her relationship to Beebe is one of superiority. She believes that he should not have any input into our lives as he is merely a pet.
When I clap and yell when he performs his roly-poly trick, she accuses me of spoiling him.
“No wonder he thinks he rules the roost here. He’s a cat,” she says. “He’s just a cat.”
Beebe reacts to these statements in a very negative manner. He spits and hisses and runs around clawing the furniture.
“See,” Granny says, “this cat is sadly in need of discipline. I am going to whip him into shape.”
At the word ‘whip’, Beebe springs into action. He utters a growl and immediately launches his biting attack. The problem is he doesn’t launch it at the instigator. It is my shin he attacks.
Things are becoming more and more chaotic.
The worst part of this newly formed quartet is the way Granny treats me. Even though I have reached my hefty age, to her I am still a child. I can’t do anything without her constantly hovering over me.
Did I take my vitamins? Why didn’t I drink all my orange juice? Did I brush my teeth? It is cool outside. Am I sure that I have dressed warm enough?
These are just those thrown at me at the beginning of a typical morning. This goes on all day. I want to scream.
Even though it is 78 degrees outside, she immediately demands I put on a sweater and a winter jacket before going out to get the mail.
Nurse Judy immediately pipes up. “You look like a snowman. What will the neighbors think? It’s bad enough you dress like a frump, but with all those layers on you look even fatter than you are. You can’t go out like that.”
I am glad I have all these layers on because Beebe leaps from the floor to my chest, digging his claws into the padding. He wants to go with me because he doesn’t want to stay in the same house as the person who talked about ‘whipping’ him.
Granny doesn’t respond to Nurse Judy because she refuses to acknowledge her presence, but somehow the essence of what Nurse Judy said must have gotten through to her for she says, “Keep that coat on and button it up to your throat. Here, put this scarf on.”
She winds it around my neck.
Beebe’s claws have begun to penetrate through the jacket, the sweater, the shirt, and my undergarments and I let out a little shriek.
This terrifies Beebe, who only clings tighter and I can feel a droplet of what I think must be blood sliding down my chest.
Nurse Judy begins to laugh.
I stagger out the door, thrusting Beebe back inside, and make my way down the hill to the mailbox. I am huffing and puffing and the wet trickle down my chest is probably now sweat, not blood.
Coming back up the hill to the house is worse and my huffing and puffing becomes strident. I try to unwind the constricting scarf from around my neck and it becomes entangled in my feet. I fall down.
Once again the many layers of clothing are a blessing as I am not hurt, but I can’t get up and begin rolling back down the hill. I grab the mailbox and haul myself up as a golf cart full of neighbors rolls by, staring at my disheveled appearance.
Nurse Judy was right. I don’t know what those folks were thinking of that mud-stained frumpish pudgy apparition clinging to her mailbox. I gave them a jaunty wave and began the upward climb again.
As I neared the top of the driveway, I saw an escape. There was my Caribbean blue Spark parked securely in its spot. I knew where my extra keys were hidden. I grabbed them, hopped in my car, stripped off several layers of clothing and backed down the driveway.
I needed a respite from that crowd at my house. I didn’t have my driver’s license on me or any money for that matter, but for a time, at least, I would have privacy.
I drove to the park, turned on the radio, pushed back my seat and with Carrie Underwood crooning in my ear, I relax.
It’s just too crowded at my house. How long is this pandemic going to last?