Grandma’s first public breakdown


Most families have stories that start like this: “Grandma was running around the house looking for her glasses, fit to be tied!  And then Tillie said: Grandma, you silly thing, they’re right on top of your head . . . “



This is very amusing.  It is probably also the Beginning of the End for Grandma.



A few months ago, I myself had a Grandma moment.



I went to Rhode Island Hospital for a diagnostic X-ray.  The technician was a lean older guy, probably around my age (maybe a little younger). He was a little brusque at first.  “Go in here,” he said, pointing to a cubicle about the size of an airplane toilet, “and strip to your underwear, shoes, and socks.”  He gave me a smock.  “Put this on.   Once you’re ready, go have a seat, and I’ll come get you.”



Then he gave me a plastic bag marked PERSONAL BELONGINGS and left.



I was nervous and befuddled.  I know how to take my clothes off, so I did that first.  I put on the smock; I had a little trouble tying it, but I reassured myself that most people probably have trouble tying a knot from behind. 



Now: PERSONAL BELONGINGS.  Okay.  Wallet, keys, BlackBerry, pen.



I’d just come from work, so I also had my suitcase, and a bag of other miscellaneous stuff.  It was cold, so I had my heavy jacket and my nice scarf.  I created a huge pile of things, and was stowing them in all directions, with no real idea of what I was supposed to be doing.



Finally I organized everything, and felt very calm.



And then I realized that the PERSONAL BELONGINGS bag was missing.



Wallet!  Keys!  BlackBerry!



I searched frantically.  There wasn’t anywhere that the bag could have gone.  Could someone have come in and snatched it?  There’s no telling these days, it’s possible.  I was frantic –



Radiologist comes back in.  “Ready?” he says blandly.



“I had the bag!” I babble.  “The Personal Belongings bag!  And it’s gone!  Did someone take it?  Did – “



“It’s right there,” he says calmly.  “You’re carrying it right now.”



And sure enough, there it was.  I’d put the PERSONAL BELONGINGS bag into the other bag I’d been carrying, and looped it over my shoulder, and forgotten all about it.



The radiologist was very solicitous and sweet after that.  He helped me re-tie the back of my smock.  He walked me very slowly to the X-ray table.  He talked to me very soothingly, asking me all kinds of questions – Where did I work? What did I do? Where was I from? – and I’m sure it was his usual schtick, but he seemed especially determined to calm me down and reassure me. 



Kind of the way you do with a mental patient.



It’s official, kids.  I’m a Goofy Grandma who forgets that the glasses are right on top of her head.



Oh please someone shoot me.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to Grandma’s first public breakdown

  1. Molly says:

    I love you Loren. Situations do drive our behaviours, you were just being human and he was just realizing that you were human.

    I hope all is well. Keep smiling.


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