On the Eve of Mum-Mum’s 101st Birthday

The current prevailing theory
Is that my Mum-Mum has reached the age of 101
Thanks in no small measure
To the great aerobic exercises her grandkids put her through

For instance
The time Mum-Mum was walking my brothers home from school
And they convinced her to take what my Dad rather inaccurately called a shortcut
(Only in the sense that he could avoid a few traffic lights in his car)
Walking uphill three miles on an unpaved road in the heat
That took the better part of an afternoon
Nearly cursing (but not quite) as they arrived back home at Justy Cottage to take a breath 

On the day I was born
Mum-Mum looked after her grandkids and the Vietnamese foster children
After running out of packed food within the first hour of my Mom’s long August labor 
That took the better part of the afternoon
And she walked the length of the hospital cafeteria
Looking for something to feed five children with something like three dollars
Eventually splitting a hamburger into bites
While it was so chilly that August 
Mum-Mum was covered in hospital sheets by the time I was born
And shivered the champagne right out of her glass to toast my birth

Then when I was just two or three
Mum-Mum took me on the trolley into Chestnut Hill
And I took one glance at the deceivingly thin and tiny wheels holding up the trolley on the cobblestone tracks 
And I lost all confidence in the capacity of the trolley to convey us back to her apartment
So we walked all the way from Chestnut Hill to Germantown
Which took the better part of the afternoon
And that was the last time I ever took the trolley

Now as her grandkids have grown up and her great-grandkids are outgrowing their toys
Mum-Mum has certainly earned a quiet afternoon in her apartment 
With intermittent visits from those who could make the trip 
While the rest of us gather in the restaurant where she should be the honor
To toast in her stead another year of mostly surprisingly good health
For the better part of the afternoon

By Joshua Keiter

reader, writer, actor, singer, teacher