My Nanna’s big ugly silver car was indeed totaled. The doctors could not believe she was alive. She was hit from behind, and the impact of that made her car hit the car in front of her. She was on her way back from Marshal’s. She suffered only mild head trauma but that was it. The firemen had to use the “Jaws of Life”, which are gigantic pliers, to pry my Nanna out of her front seat. When they pulled her out she was immersed in Marshal’s bags, and they joked that those bags saved her life because they helped cushion the impact from the hit from behind. I guess Marshal’s was having a sale on pillows, and Nanna had gone a little crazy and bought ten new pillows. She had stuffed some in the back, and some in front, and when she was hit the pillows from behind went flying in front, and the pillows that were in front all formed around her to help cushion the jolting blows of being hit from behind and then the her car hitting the car in front of her.
All I can say is thank god they were foam stuffed pillows and not down stuffed. That would have been a crazy sight, pulling my Nanna out and goose feathers going all over the place. But, go figure, shopping at a discount store had saved my Nanna’s life.
After my mother’s second glass of wine and third trip to the bathroom she was finally calm enough to explain to us that Nanna would have to be in the hospital for a couple of days. I asked if I could take a couple of days off school, only to look after Nanna, of course. She gave me a mean look, and said “NO!”
“Bitch,” I said under my breath, stomping to my room and throwing myself onto my bed. All I could think of was my Nanna, lying in her hospital bed, all alone, with tubes coming out of her nose. Who was going to make the red sauce tomorrow? I ran out to the kitchen where my mother was on the phone with Papa trying to explain to him what was going on with Nanna and asking him to return to Chicago. I heard him shout that he didn’t want to come back and that he was scheduled to come at the end of the summer. He didn’t want to come back because he didn’t want to spend the money and he didn’t want to have to buy my Nanna a new car.
“Ma, who is going to make the red sauce tomorrow?” I squeaked through my tears.
She put the phone up against her right shoulder and said, “For God-sakes Gianna, don’t be so dramatic. Just go and look in her freezer. She’s got tubs full of the stuff.”
I stomped off to the living room to watch some TV, only catching her last word as I switched on my favorite TV show, Dallas. Now they had some family drama. I mean, at least nobody in my family has shot anyone—yet!
My father had already gone to bed and my sister was in her room. My mother screamed out again to me, “You better have finished your entire home work young lady.” “Whatever,” I said, “I’ll finish it in homeroom.”
Papa and Uncle Leo flew in yesterday, three days after the accident, on separate flights from California, which meant two separate times to the airport, which meant two separate times my mother got lost. How many times have we taken the same drive down the Kennedy expressway and gotten off when it says O’Hare Airport? But for some reason my mother always gets off too early and winds up somewhere in Rosemont, bitching and swearing that she should have known better, screaming at me and my sister to turn down the radio because she can’t think. She pulls over at the same gas-station, on the same corner, at 12:00 noon on a Friday for Papa and then again that night at 9:00 for Uncle Leo. And of course the same greasy smelly gas station attendant says the same thing as he leans in close to the driver’s side window, showing off his tobacco-stained front teeth, “Lady, you gotta turn around and get back on the expressway.”
Looking at my mother as she makes a second dramatic u-turn in the middle of a deserted street at 9:00 o’clock at night, tires screeching off the side of the curb, muttering to herself that she should have know better, I wonder if what they say on the commercials is true: marijuana can cause brain damage!
Aunt Connie flew back today. We didn’t pick her up. She flew into Midway airport and took the train back to her apartment. She called when she got in and asked how Nanna was doing. I said she was dying of a broken heart, due to all of her children being losers or rejects, as well as her husband being a cheap-ass bastard. She told me to watch my mouth. I asked her if she had found herself in Florida. She asked if she could speak to her mother. I hung up on her. She called back and I told her Nanna was sleeping and she asked me what I was doing over at Nanna’s anyway. I replied that I was taking care of my Nanna because nobody else could. “Well aren’t you a little angel,” she said and then informed me she would be over in a couple of minutes.
I was taking care of my Nanna. She had taken to her bed. Well, she had no choice. She had two black eyes and a massive headache to go along with them. When we went to pick her up at the hospital, she looked like a crazed raccoon, her white hair sticking up all over the place, her two eyes black and her cheeks swollen. The doctor had informed my mother that my Nanna was lucky to have survived. “Tough old lady,” he said, patting my Nanna on the knee as we wheeled her out of the hospital.
Getting off the phone, I went and checked on my Nanna for the tenth time, just to make sure she was still alive. I had been checking on her every five minutes since I had gotten to her apartment that morning, just to make sure she was still breathing. I’d just opened her bedroom door a crack, sticking only half my head inside, then being reassured by her soft snores that she was still alive. I’d close the door softly. It was Saturday and of course there was nothing on TV. I thought about reading a book but there was nothing of interest on my Nanna’s books shelves except cookbooks. Papa was out and so was Uncle Leo. I had already cleaned up the kitchen and sprayed a ton of Lysol on the couch, Papa had slept there that night and Uncle Leo was in the spare bedroom. They were ready to go out when I opened the back door, and found Papa on the sofa fully dressed and putting in his teeth. He looked at me and asked what the hell my look was all about. I was wearing a black T-shirt with a pair of black faded jeans. I had on all my bracelets and dangling silver earrings.
“My God,” he shouted, “your hair looks like a goddamn peacock!”
It was true I had hair-sprayed it to stick up a little in front. Hearing the shouts, uncle Leo emerged from the bathroom all decked out in his Saturday finest: white cotton pants and silk blue top, looking like a want to-be mobster. All he was missing were the chains. He even wore a pinky ring! Papa was in his usual costume: brown-colored, polyester jumpsuit with black patent leather shoes and three thick gold chains around his fat hairy neck!
They didn’t say where they were going when I asked.
“Just out. To do some business,” they grunted in unison.
“What sort of business?” I asked.
“Business,” again saying it together.
They both checked themselves out in the hall mirror before they left - thinking they were so tough. They strutted out of the apartment as if they were fat versions of John Travolta in Saturday night Fever smoothing down their hair. I was suprised they didn't do a little dance move and whirl around and high -five each other. "Jerks!"
The problem was they had no car since Nanna’s Buick got totaled. So they had to take public transportation or at least cab it. The joke was on them, the cheap asses. They should have sent the money to buy Nanna a new car, that way they would have something to drive around town!