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My mother came down to visit last week to celebrate her 84th birthday with us. She’s had Parkinsons now for 7 years and has gotten quite frail, so she can’t take the train by herself anymore. Elliot and I drove up to get her. She slept in Ilsa’s room, and didn’t fall on the stairs, although I was careful to always walk behind her.
On the day of her birthday, we took her to a nearby British import store. She’s Welsh, and even after all these years in America (37, to be precise), she still misses proper tea and things like Marmite, Branston, HP, ginger marmalade, Horlicks and chocolate digestives.
So, we drove through rain and the bright fallen leaves to the store. She told each grandchild to pick out a candy.
“I like being spoiled,” said Ilsa, “and I like spoiling people. I’m going to like being a grandmother.”
“Maybe you can be a grandma in heaven,” volunteered Elliot.
“Yeah…” Ilsa wasn’t so impressed. “I don’t think I’d like to spoil people in heaven. You’d get them like this really cool candy or Lego set and they’d be like, ‘Well. Thanks. I already have one, but thanks.’”

October 2007

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