Granny Ivy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

Matty wants to visit Granny Ivy on Thanksgiving Day but can't because of the COVID shutdown

Granny Ivy

By Lea Sheryn


“Are we going to see Granny Ivy on Thanksgiving?” eight-year-old Matty Sullivan asked her mother the minute she came home from school.  Plopping her hefty backpack onto the kitchen island she pulled herself onto her favorite stool and started unpacking her homework.  Next week she wouldn’t have to worry about doing her school assignments after she arrived home.  Thanksgiving week was coming up; school would be closed from Wednesday until the following Monday.


For a moment, her mother stood in the middle of the kitchen gnawing on her lower lip.  It was a bad habit that showed off her nervousness in the face of a difficult situation.  Matilda loved Granny Ivy to pieces.  The older woman and the child had bonded almost from the moment of the little girl’s birth.  It had been a shame to separate them, but these were uncertain times. 


For eight long months, the country had been in shut down mode.  Covid-19 had kept everyone in their houses and at a safe social distance.  Apple Hill House, the residential nursing home Granny Ivy resided at, was closed to visitors.  Sure the family had tried to face time with Granny on several occasions, but the older woman simply didn’t understand such things.  Facts had to be faced: the eldest Sullivan family member suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and, other than Matty, didn’t recognize her own family any longer.  Sadly, Celia had lost her patience with the process and had stop all further attempts at communication.  It did, however, upset her that she had to keep her daughter and grandmother-in-law separated from each other.


Celia truly wasn’t a mean hearted person; she loved her grandmother-in-law and her little daughter.  Deep in her heart, she knew how much they each meant to the other.  It had been a hard decision to move Granny Ivy from her husband’s mother’s house into Apple Hill House, but the senior Sullivan needed more care than could be provided in an “at home” setting.  And so the family had sat together around the dining room table to make the determination.  Granny Ivy required professional care that could only be provided at the nursing home facility. 


Faithfully, Celia and Stephen Sullivan took Matty to visit Granny Ivy every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon along with every holiday on the calendar.  It brought them great joy to see the old lady’s face light up at the sight of her great-granddaughter—the only family member she still recognized.  Then Covid-19 struck, shutting down the nursing home to visitors.  They tried window visits and face time, but it just wasn’t the same.  The memory of their little girl with her faced pressed against the glass pane reaching out to hug the old woman was too painful to bare. 


What to do? Celia wondered as she turned away from the child’s anxious eyes.  Opening the refrigerator door, she pretended to study the contents.  Hiding…again, the mother thought, as she set her eyes on the quarter full milk container.  All her life she had been hiding from difficulties, only confronting them when she absolutely had too.  Well, Stephen would be home soon.  Perhaps he would know how to answer Matty’s questions. 


“Mommy?” Matty’s questioning voice came from behind her. 


Without turning to face her daughter, Celia snapped: “Not now, Matilda.  Wait until daddy comes home then we’ll talk about it.” 


“But, mommy…?” the little girl started to question. 


“I said: Not now.” 


“I miss Granny Ivy,” Matty whispered more to herself than to her mother. 


“Please, Matty…” was all the mother could say.  She was desperately hiding the fact that her tears were sliding down her face. 


The sound of books being gathered together and returned to the backpack filled the kitchen then the rasp of the bag being slid along the countertop.  With sagging shoulders, Matty headed for the backstairs and her second floor bedroom.  Why wouldn’t mommy answer her questions about Granny Ivy? she thought to herself as she climbed the circular staircase. 


Of course she knew about Covid-19 and about the shutdown.  Last February her school closed leaving the students to take their classes over the internet.  Daddy had set up a learning station for her in his den so she could continue with her studies.  It had been exciting at first but, later on, it became a bore.  She face timed with her friends and her teachers, yet it wasn’t the same as actually being with them on the campus.  With no two week holiday at the beach, summer had been a long stretch of monotony.  Finally, near the end of July, her parents had allowed her best friends, Sophie and Cassady, an afternoon of playtime and she had been permitted to go to their houses.  The only downside was they had to wear masks and keep at a safe social distance. 


Then in September, school had opened up again breaking the tedium.  Mattie went three days a week at the beginning with two days of home schooling to round out the week.  After a while, they went back to a five day a week routine.  If they opened the school, the eight-year-old girl wondered, why couldn’t they open the nursing home for visitors?  It broke her heart to have to stay away from Granny Ivy. 


“Hello, Matty,” her father’s voice came from the doorway of her room. 


“Hello daddy,” she answered, keeping her head bowed over her books. 


“Would you like to come downstairs and we’ll talk about Granny Ivy?” he asked in his most polite daddy voice.


“Sure,” Matty answered but her voice was despondent. 


Following her father downstairs, she resumed her seat at the kitchen island.  Stephen Sullivan sat on the stool next to her while Celia remained standing on the other side.  No one wanted to enter into the conversation, but each knew someone had to start.  Finally, roughly clearing his throat, the father ventured with: “You understand, Matty, everyone is going through a difficult time right now.  Nothing is as it used to be.” 


“I know about COVID, daddy,” Matty limply responded.  On the nightly news daddy so faithfully watched, it was almost the only topic of conversation.  Even the children at her school were worn out from hearing about it.  Even with some restrictions being lifted, it was hard to live day by day under current circumstances.  “But why can’t we see Granny Ivy on Thanksgiving?  We always do.” 


When she was very young, Matty remembered visiting Nana Amy’s house and seeing Granny Ivy sitting in her rocker by the fireplace.  She loved snuggling up in her lap when the chair swayed gently to and fro.  They were friends, she told the elder Sullivan as she wrapped her arms around her neck, friends forever, she solemnly added.  Gently the old Granny tightened her arms about the little bundle of girlish humanity in a loving squeeze. 


Later on, she had been sad when Granny Ivy moved into Apple Hill House.  The place by the fireplace was empty and lonely.  Matty found herself sitting on the couch with her feet barely touching the floor wishing longingly for the days when she and the old lady snuggled together in the rocker.  After a while, she got used to her nursing home visits.  It wasn’t quite the same, but they were together and that was all that mattered.  Mommy and daddy made sure their time together was pleasant and fulfilling.  Then COVID struck leaving the little girl desolate and desperate for her lost time with Granny Ivy.  Hoping for good news, she balefully inclined her head toward her father. 


Clearing his throat again, Stephen Sullivan bought a little time before imparting the bad news.  “I’m very sorry, sweetheart, but we won’t be able to visit with Granny Ivy on Thanksgiving Day.”  It hurt him to say it as much as he knew it hurt his little daughter. 


“Maybe we can try to face time again, Matty,” Celia suggested as a way to alleviate some of the pain.  “Maybe it will be one of Granny’s good days.” 


With great force of will, Matty tried to hold back her tears.  Still they flowed openly down her cheeks, splashing her favorite LITTLE MERMAID tee shirt.  “But…” she started, gulping back her emotions.  “But, daddy, didn’t they say on the news last night that there’s a vac…vac..cine ready?  Didn’t they say they were giving them to first responders and…and…old people in nursing homes first?  Maybe Granny Ivy will get one and we can all go.  Can’t we, daddy?” 


“It’s not that easy, Matilda,” her mother cut in, always the bad guy.  It cut into her heart to have to be the killjoy in the family.  “A vaccine may not be fast enough for Thanksgiving, Matty.  And it doesn’t mean the nursing home will be opened for visitors.  We’ll do the best we can to make sure you get some time with Granny Ivy, but it probably won’t be an in-person visit.” 


“I don’t want to face time, mommy,” Matty wailed as she leaped from her stool.  “I want to hug Granny Ivy and be with her…really be with her this time.  It’s Thanksgiving.”  Tear blind, she stumbled back upstairs to her room where she flung herself onto her bed. 


Sadness entered Matty’s heart as the week dragged on toward the Thanksgiving holiday.  She barely ate a thing and hardly slept at night for worry over Granny Ivy.  Feeling sorry for his little daughter, her daddy allowed her to stay home from school over Monday and Tuesday as long as she promised to attend her online class sessions with her teacher.  By Wednesday, she knew there was no hope of a nursing home visit. 


The mother and father did everything they could on Thanksgiving Day to make it special for Matty.  Nana Amy brought her a special gift of a teddy bear wearing a Pilgrim outfit.  The little girl dutifully hugged her new plush toy then set it down on the floor by the couch and stared despondently into the fireplace. 


“Don’t feel bad, Matty,” Nana Amy stated, sitting beside her little granddaughter on the couch and pulling her close into the nook of her arm.  “We’re all together and we have a fine turkey dinner to look forward to.  Next year will be better, you’ll see.” 


“We aren’t all together,” Matty glumly declared, inching away from her grandmother.  “Granny Ivy isn’t here, and we can’t go to see her.”  Slowly she moved further away from her elder’s embrace.


The big dinner was a washout.  The family sat silently around the dining room table, passing plates of turkey, stuffing and all the fixings around with only please and thank you spoken into the solemn hush that surrounded them.  When Nana Amy asked Matty to pull the wishbone, the child looked at her balefully, placed her folded napkin over her half-eaten meal and asked to be excused before the pumpkin pie was cut. 


When daddy dismissed her, Matty climbed the stairs to her room; she wanted to be alone.  Sitting woefully on the edge of the bed, the child had a sudden idea.  Entering her closet, she took out her new fall coat, her little brown leather boots and the long purple and pink plaid scarf Nana Amy had knitted her at the beginning of the school year.  Feeling she was dressed warmly enough, Matty tiptoed down the front stairway and glanced about her.  Mommy and Nana Amy were busy doing the dishes in the kitchen while daddy sat on the living room couch snoring in front of the TV.  Loudly the sounds of a football game filled the space. 


As silently as she could manage, Matty slipped outside softly pulling the door closed behind her.  Apple Hill House wasn’t that far away; only ten minutes in the car.  She could walk there just as fast and visit with Granny Ivy for a little while.  If kindly Nurse Emma Jean were on duty, she would surely allow her inside for a few minutes. 


All she had to do was walk from her house to the main road then along it until she reached the turning for the nursing home.  With determination etched across her little face, Matty made it to Hawthorne Street and took the turning toward Apple Hill House.  Step by step she strode along past the dry cleaners where mommy took daddy’s suits, then the bank where the nice teller gave her shiny red lollipops and the fast food place where they often met Nana Amy for lunch. 


The more she walked, the longer the road stretched.  Pretty soon, Matty’s new boots began to slide up and down against her ankles until her socks were bunched up beneath the heels of her feet.  It became difficult to hold her head up, so it sagged down between her shoulders.  Still the youngster continued on her way as her strong solid stride became a painful limp.  When she forced herself to look up into the distance, the turning to Apple Hill House still seemed a million miles away. 


On and on she went, step after agonizing step until she could walk no further.  A bus stop bench beckoned Matty to stop and rest her feet.  Gradually she limped toward it until she could gingerly sit down.  Taking her left boot off, she straightened her sock then did the same with her right foot.  It was difficult to return her footwear to her swollen feet but somehow she managed it.  She had to get to Granny Ivy. 


Feeling she had to go on, she stood up and proceeded on her way.  After only a few steps, Matty stopped again.  Her limp had greatly increased; she could only stumble forward.  Standing in the middle of the sidewalk, she looked about her.  The turning for Apple Hill House was still far in the distance.  When she looked the other way, her own street was just as far.  She couldn’t go ahead, and she couldn’t go back.  That’s when the child began to wail.


It seemed like only a minute before strong loving arms encircled the childish form.  “Where were you going, love?” Nana Amy whispered in her ear. 


“I want to see Granny Ivy,” Matty breathed back as she attempted to push away from her older relative.  With great determination, she began to hobble along the sidewalk. 


“Come with me,” the grandmother stated as she took a firm grip on the child’s upper arm.  Gently she maneuvered the little girl into her Ford Fiesta idling against the curb. 


Devoid of any further resistance, Matty allowed herself to be placed into the passenger seat.  Her feet ached; her head felt like a heavy rock upon her shoulders; she was completely out of steam.  Her heart still aching for Granny Ivy, she could only admit defeat.  Going home with Nana Amy was the only option left to the inconsolable child. 


Only when the car came to a stop did Matty take in her surroundings.  This wasn’t her home, her mind shouted.  They were sitting outside Apple Hill House!  Swinging her look back toward her grandmother, Nana Amy gave her a big conspiratorial wink.  Together, they climbed out of the small car and made their way along a sidewalk leading to a small side door.  Nurse Emma Jean was waiting for them with smiling eyes over her mask. 


“You must be very quiet, Matty, and be sure to keep your mask on,” the kindly nurse explained, as she took the child by the hand.  “No one must know you’re here.” 


“Yes, Nurse Emma Jean,” Matty gleefully whispered back as she placed the mask she was handed over her mouth, nose and chin.  “Is Nana Amy going to come too?” 


“No, dear, It’s just you and me this time.  Nana Amy is going to wait outside,” friendly Emma Jean explained.  “I’m breaking the rules to get you in so you’re the only one who can come.  We have to be quick.  You can see Granny Ivy for a few minutes but then we have to go.” 


“Ok.” Matty smiled back as her hand tightened upon the nurse’s glove.  Solemnly she walked down the corridor toward the elder Sullivan’s room.  When she came with mommy and daddy, she always skipped ahead to be sure to be the first to arrive.  Today was different but it was all right.  Granny Ivy was waiting for her. 


Standing in the doorway with a huge grin plastered upon her face, Matty glanced upon Granny Ivy for the first time many months.  The old woman had her wheelchair facing the window as though in expectation of seeing a familiar face pressed against the pane.  Slowly the little girl approached on tiptoe, her vow to remain quiet as serious one.  Pressing her hand against the thin frail arm of her elder, she whispered, “Granny, I’ve come to see you.  It’s Thanksgiving Day.”  Lifting her fall coat up to the level of her chest, she pulled out the construction paper turkey she had tucked into the waistband of her corduroy pants.  “I made this for you.”  Gently she placed in gift on the blanket wrapped lap. 


“Matty.”  That one word was the only one Granny Ivy could pull from her fragile memory.  It was the only one the little girl needed to hear. 

Submitted: November 21, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Lea Sheryn. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



Sadly Touching and interesting

Sat, November 21st, 2020 10:24pm

Joe Stuart

A deeply moving story, Lea, and so topical.

Sun, November 22nd, 2020 8:46pm

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