by Casey Monahan
During Thanksgiving when I was eight, Grandma Fischer took one bite of turkey and immediately spat it out, “This is supposed to be turkey, not jerky you fucking idiots!” She’d taken quite a liking to Gordon Ramsay around that time and for emphasis she pushed her plate aside and glared around the table before getting up as if she wanted to storm away, but because of her bad hip, she struggled to assemble her walker and then took another five minutes to hobble out of the room, grumbling to herself about the correct way to baste a turkey the entire time.
When she was gone, my dad explained to me and my brother that Grandma Fischer was “a good person at heart.” She just had a lot of “aches and pains” that made her “a little” grumpy.
Later that year, Grandma Fischer suffered from heart failure and had to move in with us. She stayed in a portable hospital bed right in the middle of the living room and bade her time passing out insults to everyone.
“Turn up the goddamn heat!” she yelled at my dad. “Do you want your poor old mother to freeze to death, you inconsiderate, lame excuse for a son?!”
“Open a window!” she yelled at my mom. “Are you trying to stifle me to death you ugly bitch?!”
“Speak up!” she yelled at my brother. “All I hear is mumbling, fucking mumbling. You know I’ve got bad hearing and you’re trying to make me feel bad about it!”
“Shut your trap!” she yelled at me. “You’ve got the shrillest, most annoying voice on this entire planet. You’re trying to damage my hearing even more than it already is, aren’t you?!”
“And you!” she glared at the dog. “Don’t even get me started about you. You’re the fucking worst of them all. All you do is eat, sleep, and shit.”
When my mom was picked to host her company’s Christmas party, we knew we couldn’t have Grandma Fischer in the living room, so my dad decided to try to move her.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Grandma Fischer whined as my dad lifted the breaks from the wheels. “Oh sure, hide the old lady. Nobody wants to see her. I’ll just be locked away while everybody else laughs and enjoys themselves.”
“You know I don’t mean it like that, Mom. There’s just not enough room for all the guests here.”
“Uhuh, sure, shithead.” Grandma Fischer crossed her arms and refused to make eye contact while my dad gave his first shove. The bed didn’t move.
My dad scratched his head in confusion before trying another push.
“Oh great, not only does my son not want me, but he’s also a complete wimp.” Grandma Fischer rolled her eyes.
My dad pushed harder and harder until we all heard a loud pop. He’d thrown out his back.
After disappearing for a few hours, my dad came back carrying, yes carrying, despite his injury, “the newest, most streamlined hospital bed with all the bells and whistles but not the extra weight.”
While my parents set to work constructing the new gadget, Grandma Fischer addressed me, “Hey you, you little fucker. You love me, don’t ya?”
I hesitated to respond. I really wasn’t sure if I did.
“Well, if you do, you’d convince your parents to let your poor old grandmother stay where she is. Just cause I’m old doesn’t mean I’m not a person anymore. I can partake in this party. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
I imagined Grandma Fischer cussing out all the guests and getting my mom fired and shook my head in refusal.
“Well fuck you, too. I always hated you, you ugly little cunt.”
In that moment, I decided that I hated Grandma Fischer back, and after the party when she was back in her spot, I noticed that the breaks were not in place. My dad must’ve forgotten. In a small spite against her, I didn’t fix them.
Hours later, I was laying in bed, sound asleep when I heard an agonizing squeal. In my grogginess it took me a moment to realize that the noise was not coming from some fantastical dream, but simply the living room downstairs. The dog was shrieking and crying, there was a pattern of mechanical whirrs followed by a loud thump, and all the while Grandma Fischer was screaming a slew of profanities that melted into plain gibberish.
“Agh” thump “fucking” thump “dog” thump “shit” thump.
All I could think was, “Oh my god, she’s killing the dog.”
I jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs, the rest of my family in hot pursuit. We all stood in horror as the dog, his tail stuck in the hospital bed, ran around the room dragging the bed after him with Grandma Fischer still in it. He yelped and yelped as Grandma Fischer pounded on the buttons, probably in an effort to free the bed from the dog, and the bed jolted up and down and up and down, it reclined and inclined and reclined and inclined, Grandma Fischer’s body rocking back and forth at terrifying angles.
My dad jumped into the chaos and tried to grab the dog and calm him down but instead got hit in the butt by the jolting hospital bed and flew head-first into the TV monitor. He pulled himself from the screen, miraculously unscathed, but the TV fell over with a loud crash. It was then that a terrible sound was released from Grandma Fischer’s mouth. We all thought she was choking to death. My mom tried next, but as she reached for the dog, she stepped in a pile of dog piss and slid across the room. The poor thing must’ve peed itself with fear. My dad, fully recovered, grabbed the bed and slowed it to a halt. He locked the wheels in place and released the dog.
In the ensuing moments, we realized that Grandma Fischer was, in fact, not choking, but laughing. “You fucking idiots,” she said, “that was the most fun I’ve had in years!” and bent over in complete hysterics. My dad later told us that he hadn’t seen his mother laugh since before her husband died. In that moment, I hated her less.