My mother traveled more than 2,000 miles to celebrate her grandson’s birthday, but the real indication of how much she wanted to be a part of Charlie’s 30th celebration happened after she got to Manhattan.
That’s when Grandma Peggy, lifelong germaphobe and avoider of big crowds and closed spaces, rode the New York Subway.
Start spreadin’ the news.
This is a woman who has been packing hand sanitizer in her giant but stylish purse long before it became de rigueur. I once saw her pull a full-sized canister of Clorox wipes from her purse to wipe down her hands (and the pew in front of her) after shaking hands during the peace greeting at a Catholic mass.
She tripped into a Venice canal back in 1989 and found the experience so revolting she has vowed she will never return to that beautiful country.
“So,” she said brightly when we had all gathered on a Friday night for dinner and a Pure & Weary performance. “What are the plans for tomorrow?”
I broke it to her gently (but in public where we all had to conduct ourselves with dignity).
“We’re all invited to Charlie’s for bagels, and then we’re going to his party at the Strand,” I said, and waited for the obvious next question.
“How are we getting there?”
“Well,” I said carefully. “It’s best to take the subway.”
Grandma Peggy gulped a little, smiled bravely and then talked through her teeth.
“Sounds great,” she said.
Then she turned and whispered to my sister Kathy.
“Laura says we’re taking the subway to Charlie’s party.”
They showed up bright and early Saturday morning and we all trooped off. It took us several tries to get our large party through the turnstiles as the NY metro transit system tricked us. Turns out only four people can pass through the turnstile under one card.
Eventually, we figured it out and made our way to the F train…which wasn’t running that morning.
So, we waited
in a nice, comfy steam room on the platform for the R train to Queens.
I’m not sure she’ll ever take the subway again. Grandma Peggy definitely prefers yellow cabs or stylish drivers who stand in lobbies with her name on placards they hold, but for one pretty cool weekend in New York, she rolled like a champ.