My grandma, like most old ladies, loves wind chimes. She loves all lawn ornaments and porcelain collectors' items that collect dust, bird shit, and that attack my face. But I’m pretty sure my grandma likes them more than the average bionic woman. Our cat, Maybeline, jumped up on my lap while I was chatting her up as she tried to ignore me so she could watch reruns of Criminal Minds (which I happen to know she’s seen every episode of because we watched them at the same time in different rooms and yelled comments to one another over the TV during commercials), and broke one of her thousands of porcelain angels. The wing fell somewhere into the chair I was sitting in, and when I found it I was all, “which trash do you want her in?” and she flipped, telling me she liked the angel to smile at her while she watched TV.
I think if an angel has a painted smile on her face, then she’s not actually smiling at anyone. Maybe she’s actually miserable inside and hates our house, but because the smile is painted there she can never express her true feelings. But Grandma doesn’t know that. She chooses to believe that the angel actually represents the person who gave it to her (whose name escapes her). SHE BELIEVES A LIE! So I just put the angel back on her Bose stereo (for her audio books. She actually asked us if it was a good one, and we were like, “No, Grandma. A Bose stereo is shitty,” and when we saw the lack of recognition on her face we said, “yes, Grandma. That’s a very, very good stereo.” She doesn’t know what to believe anymore.). Mom figured we could just put tape on the back because she only ever looks at the smiling side anyway. Only guests have to look at her ass. But we left that decision to her.
And then there are the wind chimes. They are everywhere. And they have taken over the porch and have circled the entire house. And I’ve never minded that much because, although aesthetically awkward, they do make pretty sounds and it is her house. But my sister Kayla just got her a new one. Wind chimes are kind of a fallback gift for Grandma. If you have no idea what the hell to get her for Christmas, just walk around Cracker Barrel with a blindfold on and pick something up. You’ll make her day.
So because there’s literally no more room to hang something up outside, she hung it from the fan in our living room, something she’s always done. That would be fine if the metal rods were a few inches long. But they’re not. Duh. The title can tell you that much. This particular one is long enough to hit myself in the forehead if I’m walking normally. And long enough for Jim to eat if he’s walking normally.
The other night I took Grandma’s dogs for a walk with Kyle, and because I’m a total athlete, I jogged into Mom and Jim’s room to tell them something that probably wasn’t that important, and midstride a wooden oval drove itself into my eye—or rather my eye drove itself into a wooden oval because I’m the only animate being in that scenario, but I wanted it to be the wind chime’s fault, so I flipped it around a bit. And it hurt way more than it should have. I seriously wanted to yell at grandma, but I realized that that would have been pointless.
Grandma is not going to stop liking wind chimes at this place in her life. And she’s not going to stop hoarding them. She’ll collect more and more and more and more until she dies. And at that point I’m going to cry when I pull that damn wind chime off the fan, so I decided not to complain, because she’s going to die someday? I think a better way of putting it is just like those angels mean something to her, those wind chimes have started to represent my grandma for me, and if they were gone I know she’d miss them. So I smile a little when I pass them, even if I don’t actually like them.
This afternoon I put the leashes on the dogs to take them on a walk. They always jump up on Grandma’s bed so I can reach their tiny, little necks easier. And when Millie jumped on the bed she hit her eye on a new wind chime I’d somehow missed, hanging directly over her bed, about a foot from the mattress. And Millie kind of yelped and I smiled and said to her, “If you had the cognitive ability that I did, then you would appreciate that wooden oval to the eye.”
I still hate wind chimes.
I still love my hoarder grandma.