When I was a little girl, Granny took me to most of the birthday parties. Mama was usually working and truth be told, I think Granny liked them. She was able to get in everybody’s business right there in their own home – they not only invited her in, they gave her a plate of cake and ice cream with a cup of punch.
Mama usually would purchase the present a few days before the party but on one occasion, Granny told Mama she would get the gift. Mama didn’t know what was up, but she didn’t argue with the old gal and told her that was fine.
Granny came home the Friday evening before the party with a drum set in a box.
“Who’s that for?” Pop asked. He was already thinking of what football games, wrestling matches and nighttime soap operas I would not be allowed to play those things during.
“Timmy,” Granny said with a sinister grin (the child’s name has been changed to protect my grandmother).
“What did that kid ever do to you, woman?” my grandfather asked.
“Not a thing, Bob. But I can’t stand his mother. Wicked old heifer,” Granny said, unrolling the wrapping paper. “This is payback.”
Even though at this point, I think those two had been married more than 30 years, but that was the first time my grandfather had ever really truly realized the depths of her evilness. He was in awe. And more than a little bit scared.
Granny was so proud of herself, she was almost pleasant that weekend. She hummed while she was mopping and didn’t even grunt about the dishes. I think we all were scared by this point.
You should have seen the delight in her face as we pulled up to the birthday party the following day. She was looking forward to this party more than I was. I think she skipped up to the door.
“Once the gifts are opened, you tell that heifer thank you for inviting you and we’re going – even if the cake hasn’t been cut, we’re out of there, you understand?”
I was too frightened at this point to question Granny. I nodded, even if it meant no cake.
I had no idea of the implications of a drum set being given as a present – I thought it was a super neat gift and wish the old gal would get me one instead of footy pajamas. But no, nothing that made noise was ever gifted to me.
Granny was about to bust during the perfunctory play time of the party. She didn’t even seem to be interested in any snippets of gossip she could have gleaned on folks. And Granny traded gossip as a hot commodity.
Thank the good Lord, the cake was served before the gifts were opened. Granny didn’t even take a piece – probably too giddy with excitement to eat. I could tell she was holding her breathe as the presents were placed in front of the birthday boy.
Assorted toys, clothes and cards were unwrapped, all with oohs and ahhs and gratitude from the child and his mother. Finally, the mother – a woman Granny for some unknown reason abhorred – slid the box of noise in front of Timmy, a look of wonder on her face.
“This is from Sudie,” she told him, casting a glance at me.
What would possibly be in this box that seemed so ginormous whatever inside must be obnoxious?
“A drum set! My very own drum set!” the little boy squealed. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I had been wanting one and Mom said no! Thank you!”
He ran straight to Granny, knowing she had been the purchaser of the gift.
The mother’s gaze fell on Granny as well, an icy stare that reflected just the right amount of loathing and respect. Not just anyone could come up with getting a drum set for a child when they didn’t like their mother – but Granny did. You may not like the mean old gal, but you had to respect her.
The next morning at church, Granny asked Timmy how he liked his drums. He responded breathlessly he loved them, but his mother was taking Goody powders by the box load. She had a headache that wouldn’t quit.
Granny’s voice was full of joy as she sang “Amazing Grace” from her pew that morning.
“Why don’t you like that woman?” Mama asked. “I have my reasons and don’t you worry about it,” was the answer she received.
We never, not ever, knew the reason, but I am pretty sure Timmy’s mother steered clear of Granny after that.
The other night as I lost a few brain cells on Facebook, my dear, childhood friend Laura questioned if it was wrong to get a child an obnoxious toy because she didn’t care for the mother. I told Laura about Granny and the drum set – “Granny would applaud your decision, Laura!” I replied.
Indeed, Granny would be extremely proud.