The spatula whips the hairs on the top of my head in one swift swing. A black plastic spoon swings around the kitchen splattering pancake batter on the deteriorated floral wallpaper. My arms are wrapped around my head to keep the pancake batter from raining down on me. Through the cracks between my fingers I can see her dancing. She is singing an old song I’ll never know, but with a tune I recognize all too well. My brother is sitting beside me laughing and waving his arms to the music. She does a twist and spins from the stove to the table where she greets us.
“Oh, and how can I help these young lovely customers today? What can I get you?” She looks at us with her plum colored eyes.
“Pancakes!” My brother and I shout.
“Ah, my specialty!” she replies.
She twirls her way back the stove with the spatula still in hand.
Her wrinkles are not an indicator of her age. At almost 85 years old she looks as beautiful as ever. Her hair is full of brown whisps, and her slender legs carry her far across the kitchen.
After breakfast we play bingo and watch the Yankees.
“Oh, Derek Jeter he’s such a good player, and handsome too! Ah, yes, Jeter, home run, home run, baby!” Her hands soar to the sky as the man rounds the bases. “What shall we do next? Maybe I Spy? Or how about Bingo again? This time we can bet 10 cents.”
My brother and my eyes begin to droop. She sits on the edge of her reclining chair while we slump on the sofa. She pulls out the blow-up mattress and begins to make our bed.
“Perhaps tomorrow,” she says. She bends her head down to kiss our foreheads, but before she leaves, she reminds us to say our prayers. Before drifting off to sleep, I can see the red glow of the Jesus statue perched on her nightstand. I can hear my grandpa snoring through his slumber, and I can smell the musty sheet my brother and I share.
When we are at the beach, she sits upright in her plaid beach chair. The plastic chair makes squeaky noises under her thighs. Even on too-hot days, she still wears her stockings. The primary colored umbrella over her head engulfs her body, so from the seashore we can only see her feet. My brother and I build a sandcastle. She offers us Fig Newtons, and I stick my tongue out in disdain, remembering the one time I ate too many and got sick.
We play I Spy until dinner time. She cheats a lot, but we don’t mind.
“I spy something green!” she says as a smile pokes out on the corners of her face.
“The house is painted green!” I wail when I realize there are too many green things in this world.
“Ah, looks like we will be here for awhile then.”
We play I Spy until grandpa calls us in for supper.
Now, the whole world is blue. Green paint chips lay solemnly in the alley way that separates Nana’s house from her neighbor’s. Sometimes she forgets the neighbor’s name, but we shrug it off as old age.
She can no longer understand the letters in Bingo, just as she cannot understand that Grandpa is gone. Sometimes she hesitates when I go to put her stockings on, forgetting that I am her granddaughter, forgetting that afterwards we would have tea and toast. Some days I cannot help but feel anger towards her because she won’t drink her tea because she believes it’s poison, as if she believes we are the ones hurting her, not the disease.
She sits in a reclining chair in her living room. A woman sits behind her reading the newspaper; this is her caretaker. I grew up and went to college; she grew up and forgot who she was. She tells mangled stories of her childhood. I know she doesn’t know who I am, but she’s too polite to say anything. Behind her glazed over eyes I can still see a pancake-maker, a Bingo shark, and a grandmother.