Never Grow Old

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Grandparents are those warm, caring old folks that spoil their grandchildren with candy and overnight stays where you can do whatever you want. That is, most grandparents, but not mine. My grandparents were a darker sort. Granny, as we called her, was one tough, hard-working woman who chain-smoked and cussed like a sailor. She was kind enough to us, but never had a nice word for Gramps. But then, who would?

Gramps is a drunken sob—not a pleasant drunk, but a foul, angry one. He was a hard worker before retirement, working the swing-shift at the paper mill. Back in the day, they paid out cash on Fridays, and Gramps would pocket his, head straight for the nearest pub and blow most of his cash. The drinking would continue until they closed the place down, or he’d gotten in a fight, which happened with great frequency. Either way, he would stumble home and God help the soul who was awake when he got there.

My father never spoke about it, but my aunt has told me stories of the beatings their brother would endure. Even once nearly dying as Gramps straddled him and choked him with both hands. It was my father who pulled him off and basically saved my uncle’s life.

Gramps grew old. He didn’t grow kinder. One day, Granny just up and left him. No one was sure where she went, nor did we ever hear from her again, but it came as no surprise to anyone. The surprise was that she’d lasted as long as she had.

After she left, Gramps grew even more foul, his moods dark and violent. That was 15 years ago. Today, Gramps is being trundled off to a convalescent center. Against his will, but it has been determined that he is too feeble to care for himself, and too unsound in mind to make decisions for himself. Since I’m a real estate agent, it has fallen on me to put the old homestead on the market. So I hired a crew to put the place into tip-top shape.

The property is looking great and early this morning the lawn crew came out to put in the finishing touches. Granny had been a ardent gardener and the raised beds have long ago become weed jungles. I ordered them to remove the raised beds, and the huge compost bin in the back corner filled with rotted leaves and trash.

I got a call about an hour ago, the crew used a tractor with a bucket on the front to scoop up the pile of rotted compost. Time they got to the bottom, they found something unexpected. I jumped in the car and headed straight over.

By the time I got there, police cars were pulled up in the long driveway and the forensics team had already begun work. There, at the bottom of the compost heap, was a skeleton of what the coroner said was a female, aged 60 to 70 years, with one leg noticeably shorter than the other, leather corrective shoes still on her bony feet. Red matted hair still clung to the skull.

There was no doubt—this was Granny. Apparently, she didn’t just leave. One of their violent arguments apparently grew too heated and Gramps buried her remains in the compost pile.

Not sure what will happen to Gramps. He’s too far gone to even remember he did this and too unhealthy to serve any time. I tell you, it sucks to grow old.

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