… on the old yankee man and the giant slalom


The Old Yankee Man cuts a lot of things out of the newspaper to give to people. He has a new filing system.

The Old Yankee Man has quite a fan club and I get messages all the time asking about him.

Usually these messages are sweet and kind and are just asking after his health or if he is still not-so-secretly slipping Fred a milk bone (or half-box of milk bones) daily.

Other times people are just wondering if I’ve murdered him in his sleep and that’s why I haven’t written about him lately.

To the former, the answer is that he is doing fine and – based on Fred’s continued resemblance to a harbor seal – I am pretty certain the half box of milk bones daily is happening on a fairly regular basis because Grampa is certain Fred will waste away to nothing which is also why Grampa can’t die.


If I had murdered him in his sleep, I would probably be writing about him more because I would want everyone to think he is alive and kickin’. I have watched Law and Order and CSI for enough episodes that I know a thing or two about casting off suspicion.

Which I could be doing right now.

And why could this be happening? Well, let me tell you.

Since the Old Yankee Man broke his freakin’ neck back on September 11th last year, he has been using a walker.

Which he hates.

So, really, most of the time he is not really using his walker.

He is placing his walker in various places around the apartment, where he leaves it, as he makes his way all over the dang place to do what he needs to do.  Then he returns to his walker and brings it to another place.  All of these places that he puts his walker are strategically mapped out so that, when any of us question him on why his walker is not with him, he can point to it and say, “It’s right there, I always use it. It’s just this one time…” and then he can mumble about us minding our own God-damned business.

And this is fine, because it has to be fine.

The guy has lived for 85 years.

He has all his mental faculties.

He knows the risks of cavorting through his apartment un-walkered.

I sat across from him at his kitchen table one day and he was complaining about people hovering over him.

Grampa: “I don’t need people telling me what I should do”

Me: “I hear you.”

Grampa: “Like Mother. She keeps telling me I’m supposed to use my walker. I know I have to use the God-Damned thing. I don’t need people telling me that. I know that.”

Me: “I get it.”

Grampa: “I know I’m supposed to walk inside the cage and walk slow. I’m the one who goes to the God-Damned therapy.”

Me: “Yep.”

Grampa: “And if I want to…”

Me: “Grampa, if you want to fall and be paralyzed or kill yourself, that’s up to you.”

Grampa: pause.



Grampa: “Damned straight!”

Ya gotta love a self-righteous declaration of the basic human right to fluck oneself up.

I love the Old Yankee Man.

And, as I’ve said many times, I love him even when I want to kill him.

Which I do.


He really does hate his walker. And I can’t blame him. I will hate mine if I ever need one. But I also imagine that, like a dear friend’s mother, I will accept the fact that I need it and then I will trick it out so that it is totally me  (I’m thinking mag wheels and a spoiler).

Grampa isn’t doing that. But he is rather wedded to having as non-walker-looking a walker as possible. He has a very basic, folding walker. It’s light and has little grey wheels on the front. The back is just rubber tipped posts. It’s the first one he had in the hospital, and he won’t part with it, or upgrade, because that means that he has accepted the fact that he needs a walker.

We offered to get him a bit more of a heavy duty one with a seat, because he likes to shred things in his garage and sitting might be nice.


We offered to get him one a little taller so he wasn’t so bendy.


We offered to get him one of those all-road walkers with four nubby wheels and even hand brakes.


And he’s a speed demon too. He probably needs those brakes.

Because he is supposed to walk slowly, inside the ‘cage’ of the walker, so that if he stumbles, he can use his hands and arms to hold himself up.

Does he do that?


He holds the dang walker in front of him and walks really fast.

So he is sort of like an octogenarian battering ram.

But clearly, the walker he has does not let him go fast enough because of those rubber tips on the back legs.

So I figured we were not far from having tennis balls attached to the bottom of the back legs for easier sliding and floor protection.

A classic solution.

And I was sort of looking forward to them because I figured Grampa would become a sort of Pied Piper of Dingle dogs, as they followed him around hoping that one of the tennis balls would spontaneously hurl itself across the room.

Plus it would be funny to listen to Grampa complaining as the dogs gnawed on his walker-tennis balls any time he sat down.

Either way, funny for me.

And I’m all about funny for me.

But did he go with the tennis ball solution?


Because the tennis ball solution would be too much of an admission that he uses a walker.  All the old people are going with tennis ball solutions.

It’s just so passé.

He went with skis.


Freakin’ skis.


Freakin’ skis.

Young. Fast. Sporty.

So now Grampa skis around his apartment, too quickly, in a walker that doesn’t have brakes.

He still leaves the walker and goes cavorting anywhere he pleases, and then lies his ass off about always using it when you catch him free wheeling by the refrigerator.

And the skis, which are plastic, have the added benefit of picking up and/or grinding every single tiny piece of sand or dirt or rubble into the floors as he cross-country or down-hill’s his way around the apartment.

So now we have kajillions of skinny white scratches everywhere in his apartment.

I swear it looks like a hockey game has been played on the hardwood.

So now, not only do I have to worry about him paralyzing his stubborn Old Yankee Ass because he has rigged his walker for the Giant Slolum…

But now I need a freakin’ zamboni to fix the floors!

I love that man.

I love that man.

I love that man.

And I’m going to keep saying it like a freakin’ mantra.

Thanks for readin’.



Even Fred’s feet look disappointed. He voted for the tennis ball solution.

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