I’ve Been Called Worse

“You know what, Grandma?”

Jesse and his brothers had just spent his spring break at our house. As we headed back to their home in Illinois, he cast an appraising eye toward me from his seat in the van.

“You’re like the grandma in Garfield.”

I hadn’t realized that there was a grandma in the comic strip. Basically, all I remembered was the orange-colored cat known for his sheer laziness, sarcasm, arrogance, hate of Mondays, and passion for food.

My grandson didn’t care to elaborate. But later, in the blessed post-spring-break quietness of a freshly-cleaned house, I read the comic for the first time in decades.

And Jesse was right. I found a grandma. Like a long-distance grandma, she doesn’t appear often, showing up mostly for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a few times, in between.

Under her white hair pulled starkly into a bun, she wears out-sized glasses and sports a double chin. And her pink and green sweat suit couldn’t be dowdier.

It’s good I looked a little closer.

Garfield, I found, likes this grandma.  Sarcastic enough to add some spice, she also pats the trouble-making cat on the head and cuddles him on her lap, sending him into soothing and serene states. Despite her age, she exudes energy. And while she provides moments of nostalgia, she also rides a motorcycle.

I’m not sure which parts of this Garfield grandma Jesse had in mind. I know that I have a propensity for sarcasm and I’m blind without my glasses. And I know I don’t ride a motorcycle. But I’m not sure about the rest. Was Jesse commenting on my sagging skin? Calling me a dowdy dresser?  Noticing my greying hair?


But I also hope he remembered that I had kept pace with him and his long-legged brothers as we walked across the Ohio River on the Roebling Bridge, how I made his favorite shrimp casserole for dinner, and how I tousled his hair before he went to bed each night.

All in all, I can live with being called a Garfield grandma.

I’ve heard worse.

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