Friday, November 27, 2009

Milo's Best Thanksgiving Ever and The Mystery of Great Grandma and the Turkey Leg.

The Marstows of 243 Millbrook Way gathered for Thanksgiving Dinner. Everyone was present, including great grandma Willemina. She was on a special day release from the Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Insane. Grandpa Marstow filled out the paperwork a week ago. That gave the doctor on duty enough time to certify her for travel. Part of the paperwork was a detailed list of all foods she would be exposed to. The Home tracks the menu of its residents to ensure the food they receive outside the home won’t be excessively spicy or ‘tasty’. There have been problems in the past when residents go on family outings, eat at restaurants or at the home of friends and family, get exposed to good cooking and return upset when fed the Home’s standard fair of well balanced but bland food prepared for those with limited chewing capacity, ulcers, acid reflux, digestive dilemmas, and constipation.

Grandpa checked the box stating the food great grandma would be eating wouldn’t upset her carefully control diet. it wasn’t a lie. Grandma Marstow was doing the cooking and grandma never met a can or frozen meal she didn’t like. Grandma’s Thanksgiving meal would consist of canned cranberries, carrots, peas and sauerkraut. Instant mashed potatoes would be covered in canned gravy. The canned yams would be placed in a tupperware bowl, sprinkled with brown sugar, topped by generous amounts of molasses and topped with handfuls of miniature marshmallows. The bowl would be nuked in the microwave until the marshmallows melted and served hot. Grandpa included grandma’s green bean salad on the disclosure document. The dietitian asked grandpa for the recipe, he delivered it by heart - canned green beans smothered in cream of mushroom soup and topped with pepper jack cheese and nuked until the cheese melted.

The Thanksgiving turkey was supplied by grandma’s best friend and next door neighbor. Grandpa paid her to prepare the turkey and stuffing. The family was always very grateful for that. For dessert grandma had an assortment of bakery pies from the Piggly Wiggly. The family's favorite is of course a Sweet Potato Pie topped with Cool Whip.

The Home's dietitian read over the menu, made a few spelling corrections, crossed out the use of molasses on grandma’s candied yams and stamped it approved. Great Grandma was given a furlough for one day. That entitled her to an extra bath, a visit from the hair dresser and make up artist (called in to help with her pale complexion due to lack of sunshine and exercise). The Home had a hot line to the Salvation Army Thrift Store. They could be called at a moment’s notice to produce a clean previously worn dress for those lucky enough to venture outside the gated compound. The old dears had to look their best when out in public. The Home’s reputation depended on it.

Great Grandma was brought to the Marstow’s on the Home’s special van with hydraulic lift. She had a paper pinned to her dress with her name, age, and address printed on it. Great Grandma was lowered by the lift at the end of the sidewalk. Grandpa signed for her and the van was off on its next delivery. Great Grandma seemed a bit confused. The sunlight was something she wasn’t use to. She fumbled for her gigantic sunglasses that covered the entire upper half of her face when worn. She calmed down once she was back in her usual darkness. The Home allows each resident one sixty watt bulb in their room. Electricity is cut off promptly at 9:00 P.M. The Home explains that this cost cutting measure is their way to help control green house gases and save the environment.

Great Grandma was wheeled up the sidewalk and into the house. The wheelchair barely made it through the doorway. Grandpa parked her in front of the TV. The flickering pictures would keep her entertained and out of the family’s way until it was time to eat. The younger children were fascinated by this wrinkled hobbit that smelled like a mixture of Rose perfume and Milk of Magnesia. They laughed every time great grandma reached out to touch the moving pictures playing out before her on Grandpa’s 45 inch color TV.

Milo Marstow ignored his great grandma. He was more concerned about the turkey. In all Milo’s short 11 years he never once was quick enough to get a turkey leg on Thanksgiving. This year he planned on ending this long dry spell. He stood by the table, watching the turkey. The smell was almost more than he could endure. Grandpa and Uncle Mike stood on the opposite side of the table. Each wanted a leg. Two legs and three Marstows. Someone was going to go without.

Grandma blew her whistle calling everyone into the dining room for Grace. Milo’s dad wheeled great grandma in, parking her over several newspapers grandma laid out on the hardwood floor in advance. Great grandma had a bit of a problem with utensil navigation. When no one was looking, Milo slipped out of the dinning room, walked into the kitchen, and removed two water pistols he placed in the refrigerator several hours earlier. They were hidden in the fresh produce bin - a place where grandma would never notice. He put the pistols in his pant pockets and returned to the table.

Grandpa and Uncle Mike stood on opposite ends of the bird. Each had their hands to the ready. Milo stood at the head of the table. Everyone stood for the prayer. Grandpa insisted on saying grace at Thanksgiving. Milo knew the reason. Grandpa was always ready with hand already in motion when he said the Amen.

“Grandma,” Milo said. “My dad never says the prayer. I’d love to hear my dad pray. Wouldn’t you?”
Grandma thought for a moment. “Wonderful idea Milo. Frank, you pray this year.” Milo looked at Grandpa. Grandpa had a look of shock on his face. He’d lost the advantage of knowing when the Amen would be spoken.
Milo’s dad started to pray. Milo knew it would be short and sweet. He readied both water pistols.

Milo’s dad said “Amen”. In the time it takes a hummingbird to flap its wings once, Milo, the quickest draw in Cloverdale, had both pistols out - discharging ice cold water into the faces of Grandpa and Uncle Mike. Both men covered their faces and backed away from the table. Milo dropped the pistols, used both hands, reached for one of the turkey legs and pulled it from the serving platter and straight into his mouth. He was victorious!!! He jumped up and down all around the dining room showing off his trophy. Grandpa and Uncle Mike cried foul. Everyone was laughing so hard they didn’t hear.

“Who got the other leg?” Milo asked. He noticed that neither Grandpa or Uncle Mike had the other turkey leg. Everyone looked at each other. No one had the leg. Where was it?

Milo heard a slurping sound coming from the general direction of great grandma. He turned to look. There sat great grandma in her wheelchair over several sections of the Cloverdale newspaper gnawing away at the other turkey leg. Everyone looked at each other in disbelief. How did she get her hands on that leg?

The mystery was never solved and may never be. Great grandma would’t talk about it. She only smiled and patted you on the head saying "Lovely child...... Who are you?"

Regardless, Milo got the turkey leg. He was now a contender. He'd earned the respect of his family. It was Milo’s best Thanksgiving Ever!

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