Monday, February 27, 2006

Alright, alright. At the urging of my few loyal readers, I will continue to do my blogging (especially since I've been temporarily reassigned to boring night cops reporting). At the request of a certain hospital patient, I will begin with this:

A Toast to Old People:

My grandmother is going under the knife tomorrow morning for very invasive back surgery.

It will be a long, somewhat risky, assuredly painful surgery that will require months of recovery, and does not even promise a complete cure for her back problems.

My grandmother, who most enjoys being called "Nana West," is a frequent hospital patient, and is no stranger to the knife. So then why is everyone who knows her so nervous?

Normally, I am kept completely out-of-the-loop about the goings-on in my paternal family. Only months after the fact do I usually receive calls regarding familial disputes, get-together plans or minor and major health problems.

But not this time. This time, I've received phone calls from three people involved, and on multiple occasions. Everyone's worried, and, judging by the number and urgency of the phone calls, I should be too.
But I'm not.

Each time my aunt (who is actually more like my sister, given our minor, 5-year age difference) and I get together to enjoy some wine and conversation, the evening always begins the same way. We raise our glasses and give a toast: "To old friends and new beginnings."

It's our little nod to each other. Having known each other my entire life, the toast represents our constant quests to better our lives and ourselves with a recognition that we will always have each other to lean on, even when our "new beginnings" result in old problems.

Shortly after the creation of the toast, my grandmother made a major alteration. At the tail end of the toast, after recognizing our continuous hope for the future and renewing our pledge to each other, Nana made a funky face and hand gesture and added "and to old people!"

We began to tack on the new ending (hand gesture included) as a joke, laughing at my grandmother's goofiness. Now, it comes out naturally, as if it had always been there and no regard had ever been given to striking her portion of the toast.

"To old people" is a nod to the wisdom Nana has brought us, and, more importantly, to the fact that, like it or not, she's always going to be a presence in our duo-turned-trio and in our family.

She's tough as nails, constantly involved in everyone's lives, sometimes by invitation, sometimes not. She's stubborn as hell. Once you've picked a fight, there's no throwing in the towel. Whether you feel like you're right or not, you will not leave the battle until she, even if it's only in her mind, has come out the victor.

It's what we all love, and often hate, about Nana. Her ability to place herself in the middle of a situation and her inability to leave it until she is satisfied.

We couldn't remove the line from our toast, even if we tried.

And this surgery, try as it may, could never remove Nana. For in good times and bad, no matter who or what interferes, her place at our toasting table will be secured solely by her for a very, very long time.

She wouldn't have it any other way. And anyone who tries to tell her differently is seriously wasting their breath.

"To old friends, new beginnings AND old people."