Weekend at Gammy’s

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My sweet, but tenacious Gammy.

Forgive the obvious title reference to the late ’80’s comedy where Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman try to pass their dead boss Bernie off as alive. Such a good movie. Did you know that movie was 18 years in the making?

Unlike Bernie, Gammy is alive and well.

Gammy is my 83-year old grandma, who lives in one of those bougie retirement communities where college dorm drama and country club dinners are thrown into a blender at high speed. The result is an overpriced, flavorless puree of dead ends.


That isn’t fair, it’s not always depressing. One night, over 3 bottles of wine, a fellow resident named Mary vented her frustration with her daughter who had told her that she wasn’t allowed to drink anymore.

“My daughter thinks she controls me because she took away my car. What she doesn’t know, is that I’ve learned how to ride the bus to Trader Joe’s and buy my wine. I’ve lost 10 lbs with all the walking I’ve had to do to get to the bus stop.”


Tom and Gammy browse the menu over pre-dinner cocktails in his apartment.

Mary is the best.

So is Tom. My grandma’s newest boyfriend.

Gammy, though she would never admit it, is a serial monogamous and so is Tom.

This 92-year old, a Princeton man and poet, has sailed all over the world, been married 3 times, and has 4 children. Since he can’t walk very well anymore, let alone sail, he founded a Yacht Club for remote control sailboats. Every Sunday,¬†the flags would go up at the pond and a dozen or so people came to watch the 8 mini-sail regatta. And even though, Tom asked permission and had an off-site Harbor Master oversee the launching and lifting of the little boats out of the water, the retirement community¬†shut it down.

“It just doesn’t make sense – you won the race. You won your human race for survival and it’s not like you get a trophy or special awards for anything. Instead, everything gets taken away from you.”

That was me speaking, not Tom. He’s too humble to say that he won anything. But, he did agree with what I said.

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Gammy and Tom get their mail after their nightly escapades.

Every month, I visit for a weekend and catch up on the latest gossip and hear about the current fight against “the man”, aka the administration. Among the complaints are gripes regarding the cheap processed food, lack of information, condescending communication, and, worst of all fake flowers.

There used to be strict dining attire rules until Gammy led a movement of rebellion. “There are silk flowers and soggy vegetables, I will wear whatever I want to dinner.” In an attempt to win my grandma’s affection, Tom began bringing an electric candle and a miniature, fresh house plant which he brings to dinner every night. It’s a little embarrassing going to dinner with the two of them who like to make a display of the removal and replacing of centerpieces.

To their credit, it has become a trend. However, I’m sure it won’t be long until “the man” puts a stop to that as well.