A typical conversation with my grandmother, ten years ago:
elder: Did your mother teach you to hold a fork like that?
self: I figured this one out on my own.
elder: I can tell.
self: It gets the food up to my mouth, doesn't it?
elder: All too well. You used to be so thin! Here, let me get you another helping.
elder: You know, a girl's never going to go out with you on a second date.
self: Because I'm so fat?
elder: Well, that too. But I was talking about the fork.
self: The fork?
elder: She'll take one look at your table manners, and know right there she can never marry you.
self: Then it's probably best that she breaks things off early.
self: Saves us both a lot of heartache, not to mention the sheer expense of pursuing a doomed relationship.
elder: But it wouldn't be doomed if you held your fork like a person!
self: Sure it would. A girl like that? There'd always be something.
elder: Not a girl like that. Any girl! You can't expect them to accept you for who you are if you hold your fork that way.
self: Can too.
elder: Well, they won't.
self: Their loss.
elder: And mine. I'm going to die soon, you know. And if my grandchildren aren't married, I'll have to stick around as a ghost.
self: That's too cool.
elder: You think that's cool? I'm going to haunt you!
elder: Until you die.
self: That's great! And it totally takes the pressure off of this marriage thing.
elder: How's that?
self: I get to have you around for the rest of my life, and that arbitrary though aptly named deadline means nothing because you'll still be at my wedding, whether it happens before or after your funeral.
elder: You shouldn't joke about this.
self: Who's joking? It would be an honor to be haunted by you.
elder: Having a ghost around is no fun. You bring a girl home, and I'll fly around the room going "Whoooooo!" - she'll run home scared, and you'll never see her again.
self: And good riddance.
elder: You're missing the point.
self: She was just going to break up with me when she saw my table manners anyway. No, the girl I marry will at least find it mildly endearing that my dead grandmother still serves up this delicious Macaroni and Cheese.
elder: Ghosts don't cook.
self: They do if they want to see their grandchildren eat well.
elder: You have a point.
self: And you won't go around scaring off girlfriends if the only reason you're still tied to this existence is you want to see me married.
elder: No, I guess not.
self: It's settled, then. This is a good arrangement.
elder: Where did I go wrong?
A typical conversation with my grandmother right now:
elder: I think I'll hire someone to help out while I'm stuck in bed.
self: Sounds like a good idea..
elder: You could do it.
self: By the time my schedule clears up, you should be feeling better.
elder: When's that?
self: I'm guessing April.
elder: By April, I'll be dead.
self: Or feeling better.
self: I vote for feeling better.
elder: I vote for dead.
In the years between, we've replaced most of her body with cybernetics. We've lost two grandparents so far, but this one's supposed to be invincable. We figured she could give Robocop a run for his money. Her wit has never wavered, and her strength has been admirable. But visiting her in the hospital this week was a devastating look at reality. She's ready to die, and I couldn't be more selfish asking her not to.
She looked infinitely better yesterday, but I'm not ready to go back in denial just yet. Everything in our family is fated to happen on the 27th for some reason, and that's this coming Wednesday. So, one week of constant dread before I can breathe a sigh of relief, one way or the other.