Posted by: Modern Mom | November 4, 2011

A Partner in Conspiracy

Grandma and Mom

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately. I’m not sure if it’s the time of year, or what, but she’s been prominent in my mind. Some of the memories I’ve been dwelling on may tie us to some sneaky tom foolery, and those are the ones I want to share because they’ve made me smile over the past few days.

It started many moons ago when I moved from Montana to Portland, OR and left my family behind. It was shortly thereafter that we unexpectedly and very suddenly lost my grandfather. I was the first one my grandmother called, because she couldn’t get a hold of my mother – who was on vacation in the days before everyone on the planet owned a cell phone. I managed to track my mom down, then I immediately mobilized and was on the 10 hour drive to Grandma’s house. I include this with my good memories of her because it was the beginning of another special chapter in our life together where I felt a re-bonding with her.

Grandma in the foreground

Later that year we plotted a trip to Bozeman together to visit my mom. It was to be a surprise. Well, my Grandma was never very good at keeping secrets, and my mother has never been good at letting things lie. My mother would pry the truth from her somehow. I knew if this surprise visit stayed a surprise it would be a small miracle. So she concocted this story to throw my mom off the scent. The plan was to tell my mom that Grandma was coming to visit, but not that I was bringing her because that was the surprise. She told her she would be hitching a ride to Bozeman with a friend (since she’d never dream of driving that distance on her own) and not to worry. Of course, my mom couldn’t leave it at that and had a myriad of probing questions to fire at Grandma. But Grandma stood fast. Then she called me to see how she did and relayed the story back to me. I could hardly believe she kept her cool under my mother’s scrutiny. The giggles ensued.

The 3-hour ride from Missoula – where I picked Grandma up – to Bozeman we chittered and giggled the whole time imagining how surprised my mom would be, and praising ourselves for the bang-up job we’d done in fooling her, despite my grandmother’s propensity for honesty. Once we arrived at her office, and my grandma walked in to greet her my mother was completely floored. Then I followed her in and the disbelief was staggering. We had so much fun that this led to future surprises and shenanigans.

For my mom’s 50th birthday my Grandma actually drove herself for the first time from Missoula to Bozeman for the surprise party we had planned. That shocked my mom in and of itself, but the crowd of people we drove up on after I’d taken her away for a day of shopping had her speechless. A feat not often accomplished.

Yet another big surprise was for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. The twists and turns on my bumpy road to deceit were great indeed, but I pulled it off. And my Grandma drove herself again for the surprise and was waiting at the party when we arrived with a stunned and slightly aggravated parental unit.

The biggest secret I ever shared with my Grandma, however, was also the most special. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant with our first child, I went to visit my Grandma. In confidence I told her my good news, before I even told my mom, or anyone else for that matter. She was the first. I asked her to keep my secret until the following month when I was planning to be back to visit with her and my whole family. It was a feat I wasn’t sure she could accomplish, neither was she. Fate would have it that she took a bad turn and was hospitalized right before my visit. Our plan for the big surprise was put on the back burner. She was recovering from pneumonia in the hospital and called me over to whisper to me. She asked me if I had told my mother yet. I told her I hadn’t. She said, “Well get on with it! I can’t keep this up much longer,” laughing a little.

She was showing improvement, and the day came that I had planned for a big bouquet of flowers to be delivered to Grandma’s house for my parents. It no longer seemed appropriate, but they were bought and paid for months ago, so they were on their way anyway. Keeping my mom at the house until they arrived was no small task. All she wanted to do was be with her own mother in the hospital. But, finally the flowers arrived. My mom was confused when she read that they were addressed to her. Then she opened the card. “Congratulations!” it read.

“Well what kind of sick joke…”

Then she opened it and it said, “you’re going to be grandparents!” Well, I sure wish Grandma had been there to see the reaction. Her secret-keeping paid off big. It was the best conspiracy to deceive ever. We pulled it off, regardless of the circumstances. It was her best kept secret ever, and I’m so thankful that I was able to share that with her. I miss her dearly, and will always remember our surprises and the conspiracies we shared.

Grandma at my wedding with my dad. This is how I remember her. Always laughing.


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