I put the key in the lock and pushed open the door. The familiar smell of grandma’s house flooded my nose. Lavender, lily of the valley, mothballs and old cigarette smoke.
‘Gran, it’s me!’ I called.
Closing the door with my foot, I took the bags of shopping down the short hall and into the kitchen. Dumping everything down, I began to unpack things.
‘Gran?’ I called after a few moments then stopped to listen.
She didn’t reply so I went into the living room. The TV was up full blast and she was fixed to the screen watching the news report about the spreading virus.
‘Did you lose your hearing aids again?’ I asked then muted the TV.
Gran looked around at me wildly then shouted, ‘Cara? When did you get here? I lost my hearing aids! Have you seen the news?’
I rolled my eyes and answered, ‘yes, gran.’
Searching for her hearing aids took a few minutes; they were down the side of her chair. Then we put the TV to a lower volume and I went back to unpacking. After, I made us both tea, sandwiches and cakes.
‘I got all your shopping in, gran. There’s no need for you to go out,’ I said.
‘What was that, Cara?’
I signed, my gran was ninety-four and still living in her own house because she was so stubborn we couldn’t get her to move into a home. Beside from her deafness and slowly fading memory, she was healthy and seemed to be coping fine.
‘We talked about this yesterday. You can’t go out and have to stay isolated because of the virus. You can’t catch it. That’s why I’m doing the running around for you,’ I explained slowly.
‘I remember! I’m deaf not dumb, child,’ gran shot back.
I sipped my tea and watched the news. There seemed no escaping the pandemic.
‘World’s gone to pot!’ Gran cried, ‘you youngsters don’t know anything. I lived through the war I did! We had to make sacrifices, live as we could, get on with things. We knew what to do; mending and growing, saving, scrapping, getting by without. We had to support our boys too. I knitted socks and scarfs to keep ’em warm. And what’s all this now?’
She waved her hands at the TV in anger and carried on with her speech.
I half listened, having heard most of this before. She was right of course. Everyone was behaving badly, only looking after themselves and driven by fear instead of fact. Gran had lived through worse times and she and others got through it.
‘Fighting over toilet roll!’ gran shouted, ‘I wiped my bum with last week’s newspaper!’
‘Gran!’ I snapped in shock.
‘It’s true, girl. We used what we could back then.’
‘I know. It’s okay. Let’s change the channel.’
With gran muttering, I put something else on; a repeat episode of an old TV drama series. We watched it for a while then I tidied up and got ready to go.
‘See you tomorrow, gran,’ I said.
‘I don’t need babying,’ gran mumbled.
‘I know, I know,’ I signed ‘and you are right by the way. People need to behave better, like they did back then. It would be easier if we were all not selfish and just able to carry on.’
‘Keep calm and carry on!’ gran yelled, ‘we use to say that!’
‘Yes, yes, you did and that’s what we need to do now. Right, see you later,’ I added and kissed the top of her head, ‘and remember no going out. Though the garden is okay. All right?’
‘Yes. It’s time for Countdown. Where’s the control?’
‘Right there, next to your hand, gran,’ I pointed out.
She nodded and changed the channel.
‘Bye,’ I called and let myself out.