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  • Writer's pictureDearbhla

Creeping Jesus

‘Oh, here comes creeping Jesus. You would certainly make a better door than a window,’ my grandmother said, her irritation palpable as my grandfather shuffled in front of her blocking the TV in search of his hearing aids.
‘He always liked brown haired women you know,’ she said pointedly, looking at a news anchor on the TV.
‘Well, you’ve gotten grey now. But it suits you because you’re old.’ His response was met with a scowl from behind her 5 O’clock gin and tonic.

As we were beginning to lose the top layer of skin from washing our hands 50 times a day, activities that were previously dismissed as neurotic are now pandemically acceptable. Every week we sanitise the shopping, my mother and grandmother stand over the sink scrubbing the vegetables with Milton, while my father and I clean the cans and packaged food with Dettol. Grandpa, who my grandmother has decided is entirely useless, has been told to just stay out of the way. An order he is more than happy to obey. He uses this opportunity to snooze on his chair or shout stories at us from across the room.


‘Did I tell you about the time I went to the souk to buy a flea collar for our dog? I went into a shop and said I need a flea collar. The man looked at me and said, ‘you need a collar for a flea?’
‘Did you know that D4 people pronounce mount and round without an 'o' or 'u'... They're basic vowels and they can’t even say them.’

2020 feels like trying to outrun the four horsemen: Conquest, War, Famine, and Death. We have seen swarms of locusts ravage parts of Africa, hell fires across Australia killing millions of wild animals, a plague...and resulting death. And of course, Trump. The fifth apocalyptic apex, whom we have the misfortune to hear about everyday as my grandfather watches CNN loudly on a loop and falls asleep.


One of the perks of getting older, I imagine, is ridding oneself of self-awareness. My grandmother has very little filter these days and with that believes herself to be an oracle on certain topics.


“I suppose someone will shoot Trump,’ she announced one evening as if this was a perfectly reasonable solution to the polemics of the US political system.

‘They have enough guns in America, someone could just shoot him and that would be the end of it.”


He didn’t do a very good job at hiding the body, did he?’ she said of a drug-fuelled murder case another evening.


We slipped into this new version of ‘normal’ consisting of walks, eating and watching the RTE 6.01 news every evening before dinner, which most of the time revealed little else but the latest Covid cases.

Like most of us, my grandparents went on daily walks. This was more out of medical necessity because of his waning mobility and her lung condition than a desire to exercise. Most days they strolled along a farm pathway near our house, an undertaking my grandfather complained about regularly. As the days continued, the more fed-up they became with one another, unable to escape the monotony of lockdown life. Except of course on rare sunny days when they would plonk themselves on the balcony lathered in tanning oil. On these days, they seemed almost content with their lot.


On one such day in May, my grandmother ventured out to the lawn to lie out in the sun. We all went about our business and forgot about her. It was only when dinnertime came that we realised she hadn’t been seen for a couple of hours. A thorough search found her defeated on a yoga mat in the garden having spent the last hour and a half stuck on the ground unable to get herself up. Although she has emphysema after years of smoking, it seemed this was the moment my 83-year-old grandmother decided that she was getting old. This then prompted a sudden offloading of her worldly goods.


‘Have you any interest in an eye lash curler or something for separating your toes when you’re painting them? I’m not dying or tripping the light fandango, I’m just sorting. Even though your grandfather has been killing people all week, telling everyone that such and such a person is dead when they’re not.’


When my mother asked her if she wanted her rosary beads, she shook her head and said ‘I’m not talking to them at the moment.’

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