No more ‘getting down’ for this lady

Published 10:27 pm Friday, October 3, 2008

My nephew Tater Bug turned 21 in June.

It seems just like yesterday that he was playing in the backyard with his favorite playmates, Sis and me.

And, it seems like no more than yesterday when Sis and I could run, jump and play with a rambunctious 6-year-old.

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One summer afternoon, Tater Bug made a ramp out of a huge log and a sheet of plywood, and we played circus. He was the ringmaster and Sis and I were the jumping elephants. Why Tater Bug chose elephants instead of graceful gazelles or dashing deer I’m not exactly sure.

But, at his commands, “Run! Jump!” and a crack of the “whip,” Sis and I would run to the end of the ramp and jump ever so high and so gracefully into the air.

“Higher! Jump higher!” the ringmaster would shout and we’d do our best to soar…. although sore is more descriptive.

The years have passed and we have aged about as gracefully as the elephants we portrayed. Jump is no longer anything that we can do. Actually get down and get back up is not anything that we can do gracefully. And, we’re not alone in this delicate condition. A lot of us granny girls are in the same boat.

Not long ago, a friend called to ask me to go with her to keep her grandchild for a week while his mama and daddy were out of town.

But I couldn’t be out of work for a week. Why did she need me?

She was worried that she might get down on the floor to play with the baby and couldn’t get back up.

No need to worry, I told her. Just crawl to the nearest piece of heavy, sturdy furniture that won’t tip over and pull yourself up on it.

I’ve done it lots of times. The worst thing that can happen is that you get carpet burns from the crawl.

Another friend called her daughter to come stay with her while she practiced getting up off the floor. The practice was prompted by an incident in the vegetable garden. She stooped down to pick a tomato and couldn’t get back up. Luckily, she had a cell phone so she called for help.

After that, she figured that, if she practiced and gained “getting up” confidence, she could regain her independence.

Of course, she needed somebody there to assist during the practice sessions. “You just can’t be too careful,” she said.

The practice paid off. She again stooped down in the garden and her knees locked up on her and she couldn’t get up. But, she pulled herself up on a “sturdy” tomato cage.

Another friend knelt at communion and couldn’t get up from the altar until the men on either side lifted her from the altar and ushered her up aisle of embarrassment.

As we granny girls learn from each other’s misadventures, we just aren’t getting down as much as we used to. Our feet are the only body parts that come in contact with the floor. Showers have totally replaced bubble baths. No fireman is coming to the rescue us from the bathtub.

Plucking vegetables from a market bin is easier than from the earth on bended knees and it might be a good idea to skip Communion Sunday and avoid an “altarcasion”.

We’re quick learners about some things but a little dumb about others. Somewhere along the line, we’ve been convinced that you are only as young as you feel.


Try to tell that to your body.

A friend believed it. She was going to show her granddaughter how to jump on a pogo stick. Her demonstration consisted of one BONG! She was in the hospital for two days and still walks with a limp.

A vision of her flashed before my eyes the night the hurricane with a Swedish name sent torrents of rain our way.

My little grandson and I were sitting on the porch listening to the rain and watching sheets of lightning illuminate the sky.

After a time of that, he plundered in the storage closet and came out with a jump rope.

After he jumped up a sweat and handed the rope to me.

“You do it, Granma. Jump.”

I rose to the occasion.

I rested the rope behind me on the floor and got ready to turn it and jump.

But my body refused. My feet stood firm. They would not move. No matter how hard I willed my body to jump, my feet would not budge from the floor.

“Jump, Granma!”

My knees flinched and my shoulders jerked upward but my feet were like boulders.

I wanted to jump but what would happen if I did?

Why, I could come down on my knees and snap them like twigs.

Or, what if my feet got tangled in the rope and I fell off the porch and headlong into the lantana.

“Jump, Granma! Why aren’t you jumping?”

“Did I ever tell you about the time I was an elephant ….”

Blessed is the grandmother who has a story to tell.

Jaine Treadwell is features editor of The Messenger. She can be reached via email at