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Have won an award The Granny Hook

Story ID:126
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Location:Butte Montana USA
Person:Granny Hook
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The Granny Hook

The Granny Hook

"The Granny Hook"
by Kathe Campbell

"Don't you worry my darlin's, I'm good." But I wasn't. I wondered if I'd ever be?

I stretched out my only arm to beckon grandchild hugs while choking back a bucket of tears that persisted in welling up. Somehow I felt this to be the most grown up I had ever been in my 63 years. I felt their little bodies trembling as I stepped wearily from the car after eight weeks in a far-away hospital. "Oh Granny," sobbed one of my babies, "what did they do with your arm? Couldn't they put it back?"

Yes, I had lost my dominant right arm and a few other mundane parts and pieces in an accident. It was essential that all our grands felt easy around me. The repulsive and fleeting changes rested with their very loving and savvy parents. After all, their granny wasn't all that different. I hadn't suddenly sprouted two granny heads. The surgeons had done an admiral job remodeling my granny face and most of my granny ear. And as it turned out, children handled the scars and granny make-over much better than friends. I thought it so strange.

"Mom, you and dad must come over soon," our youngest daughter had pleaded across the miles. KT had organized a soapbox regatta and neighborhood picnic at her lake home some 600 miles from our Montana ranch. Because of my artsy ways and her dad's building skills, she informed me the children had a plan. They had elected us to design and build a vessel from scraps laying waste in their garage. It had been a month after a final prosthesis fitting, and not even a second thought in Katie's mind that I might renege. Being back amongst the living suited me fine and we eagerly accepted.

Our darlin's greeted us on a Friday night as we've never been greeted before. They giggled and laughed over my prosthetic clumsiness and wasted no time with a surprise.

"Do you wanna know what your new name is, Granny?" Ben shyly queried. "It's "Granny Hook! Do ya like it?" as we hugged and clunked a pop can toast christening me anew. "Yes yes yes, as the name rolled easily off my tongue. I love it!"

At bedtime there appeared four inquisitive onlookers who seemed fascinated watching me wrestle with shoe laces, zippers and earrings. They insisted upon helping and were dying to see how the bungling and awkward hook contraption worked. After donning PJ's I invited everyone into the bedroom for "Prosthesis 101" in the fine art of wearing and managing a hook - with attachments.

A hot sun greeted the new day as I showed up for coffee wearing what I like to call my "go to meetin'" mio-electric arm. It boasted a soft rubber hand and nails meticulously painted by the girls as it lay alone and daunting the night before. By flexing new muscles against electrodes inside the fitted arm, I could make the wrist turn back and forth and even around and around. This was a first major effort for me and I needed more practice, but it made such a hit.

"Oh please, Gran, can my friends come see?" whined Hannah.

"No no no, Granny Hook is coming to school with me tomorrow for show and tell," proclaimed a confident Kel.

But despite best laid plans, this granny begged off, stating she must return home for doctor and dentist appointments. Besides, the onset of my pesky homesickness had me in it's grips. I promised another time.

By mid-morning my farm and ranch hook was ready to go to work in the search for building scraps. After gathering odds and ends of planks, inner tubes and a sheet for a sail, our pirate ship began to take shape. Somehow Papa anchored an eight foot piece of PVC pipe for a mast at the bow. My darlin's painted a skull and crossbones on the flag, cut out black paper eye patches, and decorated our faces. With the swing of a well-aimed plastic water bottle, the one-masted schooner was christened "The Granny Hook." With nary a breath of air for sailing, the boys commandeered brooms for oars.

Early afternoon brought any number of crazy looking home-made vessels and equally crazy fun folks to water's edge. Lavishly decorated inner tubes and two-seater barrels populated the beach in great quantity. We speculated that our big cumbersome raft might be sluggish in the water. Nonetheless, the moment was upon us as the half-pint voyagers donned life jackets. Captain Granny Hook hitched up her arm a notch and climbed aboard just behind the mainsail. The maties were hoisted aboard from behind.

While bobbing up and down amongst the flotilla, it occurred to me that my family and in-laws still had confidence in my life-saving skills, arm or no arm. They were entrusting me with the most precious things in our lives in the middle of a deep lake. It was a first and best handicap moment I'll never forget.

A blast of the horn and the fleet was off like a herd of turtles, some happily capsizing and sinking ten feet from shore. In the lag, Captain Hook coached the crew to commence rapid rhythmic paddling. The Granny Hook picked up knots just before the half-way buoy, but lost big water in the turn. Three ships now led and our little maties were tiring. It would not be enough to win. What to do! What to do! In timely fashion, Captain Hook conjured up her best rendition of the true Captain Hook and bellowed, "Abandon Ship Maties!" With nary a dawdle nor dread, the crew slipped over the side to grab the stern and kick their hearts out.

"Granny Granny, we won, we won," hollered four kids jumping up and down, flinging water and hugging me tight."

That glorious weekend was the beginning of many regattas on Katie's lake. Our creations didn't always win, but the fun was in the challenge and good fellowship with family and neighbors. It is my duty to wear sunbeams on my face and speak joyously. This Granny Hook had learned some remarkable lessons about the soul, about multifarious personalities, about family devotion, and best of all, about a child's charm and grace. Life would go on.

- 2005
Kathe Campbell "Granny Hook"

Kathe lives on a 7000' western Montana mountain with her national champion mammoth donkeys, her precious Keeshond, and a few kitties. Three grown children, 11 grands and three greats round out the herd. She has contributed to newspapers and national magazines on Alzheimer's disease, and her Montana stories are found on many e-zines. Kathe is a contributing author to the Chicken Soup For The Soul series, People Who Make A Difference, various anthologies, magazines and medical journals.