Today I’ll share another Grandma story. I have tons of those, believe it or not, stored away in my memory and my hard drive, probably because she liked to tell the same ones so many times. Stories involving cats, usually, or a bird she saw that morning, or the latest scandal involving my father.
These ‘father’ stories usually went like, “There was something broken and I couldn’t fix it but then Bill fixed it and I was amazed. Until he gloated about it. The end.”
The ‘father’ stories were generally my favorites.
Anyway, when I was at Grandma’s memorial service, I was amazed to discover that many of my cousins (most of them older than I) knew relatively little about her. They hadn’t heard about her poems, or the time she tried to train her cat to pee in a toilet. Gleefully, I told them one of the best ones, which I dubbed, “The Time Grandma Stabbed A Cow”.
It starts like this:
“We-e-e-ell, I always thought you would make a nice veterinarian. There is your friend, the one with the nice blond hair, and she came and looked at Maudie once and said she was old. I thought you could do that, if you wanted to. Of course, you write, and that is very nice too, and you are very good at that, but you have a gentle way with animals, I think. I’ve always had animals, but I never became a vet. Of course, there were things you had to do, especially back then, if you had animals. There were pills that you knew about and you’d give them to the horses and the cows and things. We had cows on a ranch, oh, lots and lots of cows. In those days you didn’t name cows like some people do now. I had some favorites, but in the end we were never very sad to make them into Beef. It was the way things went, and there were just some things that you had to do.
I remember, once, I think I was about eleven. My mother and father had left to go…oh…somewhere, and my sister and I were there at home. Now, we knew how to run things by then, how to feed everything and cook everything, and so we were fine, but one of the cows I suppose had gotten into some bad grain. We were out walking before we went to bed (Marge and I were) and we heard the cow just crying and crying! Here she was, stamping and moaning, and her stomachs were swelling up, like this! You could just see it! There was gas building up inside of her, and we didn’t know what to do. The cow would die, and we didn’t have the car to drive and fetch a vet and none of our men were around. So I got my little knife and felt where the cow was swelling the most, and I stuck her! When I pulled my knife out, I remember the green foam. It just shot, phoo!, right across the barn, and it smelled just awful. Like rotten eggs, and here Marge was just screaming. Of course, she was younger than I was and I knew that we had to get that gas out of that cow, or it would pop! The foam went like that for a bit and then it slowed down and just dribbled out, and the cow felt much better, and didn’t even mind the little hole in her stomach! It was like a pinprick to her, and she seemed very comfortable.”
Here I interrupted her.
“How did you know where to stab it?” I asked. “How did you know you weren’t going to stab it in the heart or the liver or something by mistake?”
“Oh, we just learned things like that,” Grandma said loftily, sipping her tea. “If I didn’t stick the right spot, it might die. And if I didn’t stick it at all, it might die! There were just things you had to do. Maybe I could have become a vet.”
Our little white dog came into the room, scrambled onto the couch and lay his head on her lap. He sighed.
“Although I don’t think I could cut holes in nice little creatures the same way anymore,” Grandma said.
“I hope not!” I replied.
The dog chose not to comment.