The Rose Parade story

Around when my grama rounded 80 years, I started thinking that she was getting old.

She gave the illusion otherwise.

I also started taking the comments she made about what she’s always wanted to do as some manner of bucket list.

Among those comments was the annual “I’ve always wanted to go watch the Rose Parade.”

I learned there was a trip planned through her church, wherein people spent the night in a church on the route, got a pancake breakfast and were sent into the morning for float watching. That sounded nice.

We knew all the families going. It was perfect. The kids were excited. I signed us up.

This was the year the parade was on Jan. 2.

We played Chronology, which was new to us, and Taboo, of which my daughter is the master. Woo hooo, great fun all around, and our octogenarian was a sport about sleeping on the floor while teens watched DVDs of Curb Your Enthusiasm a few feet away.

In the morning everything went to pot. It was cold, windy and raining. Nana was undaunted. She piled blankets in her arms and said Let’s go.

We were not in a church on the route. We started walking and it never ended. It was more than a mile. The rain was making our blankets heavy, and Nana can’t walk far, so it was slow traveling. Our hats, scarves and sweatshirts were useless in the wet. I wanted to throw the blankets down and leave them.

Finally we found our group on cold metal folding chairs in front of a bar, which was closed. Nana and I had to pee.

Someone pointed down the route. “Go about five blocks. There are port-a-potties.” Forget it. My pants were already wet, what harm a little more? At least it would be warm.

We sat to wait. There was no way to get warmth. The rain was coming down on us hard. Time dragged. Across Colorado Boulevard I saw RVs parked at a gas station. I fantasized about going over there and offering them a million dollars to share their accommodations.

After a while, my son said, “Is it going to be like this the whole time?”

I turned to Nana. “I’m not going to make it. Shall I go get the car and pick you up?”

Hell no. She wanted to see the parade. It’s shameful to be out-hardied by an 80-something.

My 13-year-old son and I left her and my 11-year-old daughter. On the walk back my son looked over his arms and feet and said, “I could not be wetter.”

“I could not be colder,” I said back.

At the church I called Nana’s cell to see if she’d reconsidered. The parade hadn’t started yet, but others had left, including my daughter.

When The Baby walked in she said, “I feel so sorry for the kids marching in bands today.” She and my son are both marchers. They started talking about how heavy and itchy the uniforms get when they’re wet, and what the water does to the instruments.

I tried Nana again. She was finally ready to cry Uncle. She had started walking.

I jumped in my car and headed routeward. When I got to the underpass, there were pylons blocking my way, and an officer pacing in the dry.

I got out and started moving the pylons. I was frenzied knowing Nana was walking — sopping, cold and carrying that leaden blanket. She is simply not as strong as she is stubborn.

The officer made to stop me. I shook my head. “My grama needs to be picked up. You wanna stop me, you’re gonna have to shoot me.”

In hindsight, that was more dramatic than was warranted.

He squinted against the rain and made out a white-haired figure struggling our way. I got a by-your-leave and went to her.

The next year, on Jan. 2, I went over for breakfast. She was there in her chair watching the Rose Parade on TV.

She didn’t complain, just like she never complained once on that rainy day.

I could not be regrettier.

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