A happy hour

On the night they smuggled martinis into their grandmother’s assisted living center, Katherine, Vinnie and their cousin Lizzy armed themselves well.

Having planned meticulously, they knew precisely how much time they had to clear the lobby, bypass the dining room and make their way up to the second floor.

They moved swiftly wearing intentionally soft shoes and monitoring a light tracking snow they had not anticipated.

Katherine carried the backpack and it rattled a little as she moved. Vinnie, a licensed bartender, hid the shaker.

Obviously, they took the stairs.

“Hello!” they said to their grandmother, the Outlaw Mary Jane, as they popped into her room. “We brought you a surprise!”

Delighted, Mary Jane greeted them warmly and thought they, her three goofy grandchildren, were the surprise.

Katherine opened her bag and pulled out a good bottle of gin, dry vermouth, and olives. Vinnie grabbed his traveling jigger and a handful of ice and got to work.

Then, they poured their 84-year old grandmother a perfect drink in a crystal martini glass from her very own home.

“Woah, Vinnie,” Katherine said. “That’s a little too full.”

“It’s okay,” said Mary Jane with a twinkle in her eye. “I can chug-a-lug.”

Vinnie played a little Showboat from his cell phone and, as the familiar overture’s first strains filled the room, Grandma Mary Jane closed her eyes.

“I just want to take in this moment,” she said.

Then she sipped her drink and began to tell stories as her three happy hooligans kicked back and enjoyed the show.

They tried to be stealth as they made their way through the lobby, but mostly they were excited.
Shaken, not stirred…with a martini glass from home. Grandma Mary Jane told a great story about a time she had volunteered to drive so Grandpa Vince could enjoy a restaurant martini. A little too helpful with his driving tips on the way home, Grandma Vince earned a sharp retort from his generally easy-going wife. “Maybe next time I’ll drink the martini and you can drive home,” she said. From the backseat, their granddaughter Mari piped in. “I could drive,” she said. “If it’s an automatic transmission.” Grandpa Vince loved to re-tell that story because, at the time, Mari was only nine-years old.
The best part about Chicago is that so many of our cool relatives live there — including the delightful and talented Lizzy.
Katherine planned the caper based on a witty aside from her grandmother. “Can I get you anything?” she asked on a random visit a few weeks ago. “Well,” the Outlaw Mary Jane quipped, “I could use a martini.”


5 thoughts on “A happy hour

  1. LOVE it!! When my dad was 92, my mom passed (they were just short of their 50th anniversary). We hired a gal to come sit with him days. Well, we found out he was having her drive him across the Oklahoma state line from Texas (40 ins away) and play at the casino!! I was horrified that we were paying her to take him gambling. My brother told me to lighten up and let him enjoy the final years of his life. I took his advice and even did dad a port run to the liquor store. My brother was right. My dad lived another 3 years happy with life.

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