When I was about eleven years old, my Grammie and Grampie came to stay with us because of proximity to a first-rate hospital, which wasn’t available in our little pissant hometown. The hometown that I dearly love.
Grampie had had a heart attack in his mid-fifties. We weren’t supposed to jump out of nowhere and go “Boo!” because that might get his heart all wonky. This was revealed to me after several such incidents.
He was also very superstitious. I tortured him by raising an umbrella inside the house. I’m sure he was freaking out all day (now that I consider it. I was a total arsehole then, and considered nothing) That same day, I fell through the ice at recess, while playing on the forbidden lake, and hid this from Grampie, so he wouldn’t say “I told you so.”
But the nicest way I killed my Grampie was at mealtime. We had to stay seated at the table until our plates were cleaned. There were only two things I absolutely could not gag down. Liver. And cabbage. I never did make friends with liver.
Grampie, because of his heart condition, was not allowed chicken skin. Thus, the bargaining would begin. I would cleverly hide my chicken skin under the heaps of cabbage on my plate, and we would both eat very slowly. Everyone else was excused from the table. Grampie was left to supervise the cabbage consumption. My Grampie would wait until the coast was clear, and eat my cabbage for me, to reveal the forbidden chicken skin underneath.
Oh, how we rubbed our hands together in conspiratorial glee that we had foiled the food police together!
Unfortunately, Grampie died while staying with us. Another heart attack.
I miss him.
And I still save the chicken skin for him.
It’s the least I can do.