"Mom, do I have to take her with me?" Jessica moaned through clenched teeth. "Every time she hears my keys jingle, she picks up her purse! I can't go anywhere without my grandmother!" Jessica had only been seven when her Grandma Shack moved in. At the time of the move, Grandma Shack wasn't feeble by any means. She wasn't sick. She wasn't really that old. There was just no point in her living alone. Nine years had passed, and she still wasn't that feeble or that old. And Jessica was right—she was always ready to go. But a sixteen-year-old with a new car doesn't want her grandmother riding shotgun everywhere she goes.
"Mom, how did she get to be sixty-eight and not get a driver's license?"
Jessica's mom knew this was hard on Jessica. Actually, it had been hard on the whole family. When her mother-in-law had come to live with them, Jo wanted to make her feel welcome. But she had her six children to consider. Three very active boys and three equally active girls seemed to occupy every available inch of their four-bedroom home. Adding on to their house wasn't an option, so Grandma Shack had to share a room with Jessica, who was the youngest. Now that the older girls were in college, Jessica had moved into their room. Jo knew that over the years, the living arrangement had worked out fine, but she now felt some relief knowing her youngest daughter finally had some privacy.
There was no denying that Grandma Shack wasn't easy to live with. She'd been quick to lay down some ground rules as she rooted out her place in the family nine years earlier. "There will be limited baby-sitting," this strong-willed, tiny Indian woman had said. Jo could still picture her standing there—all four feet, eleven inches tall with stick-straight white hair and hands on her hips. "I raised my children; now you raise yours. And I won't clean up after anyone but myself. I did my share of that also. I don't mind sharing a room, but when my soap operas are on in the afternoon, I like it quiet."
Jo remembered how she joked to her husband, Luke, that Grandma Shack just might make them sign a contract. Once the move was complete, a trunk, a white wicker rocker, a small TV, and twenty shoeboxes with important papers now occupied half of Jessica's pink-and-white ruffled, little-girl bedroom. On more than one occasion, Jo wondered what she had gotten her family into.
"Jessica, just take her with you one more time. I'll talk to your daddy about her. Maybe he can talk to her about letting us know ahead of time when she needs an errand run," Jo pleaded with Jessica.
"Oh, all right," said Jessica. "Maybe I won't see anyone I know!"