The 1st wake-up call occurred on Saturday at 6:48 am (as far as I can recollect). It was the morning of my 17th birthday and I had no intention of waking up early. Nani, my grandmother, recognized my resolve so she strengthened her approach by physically shaking me and putting forth an arsenal of diluted reasoning, dismissive taunts and guilt-inducing verbal battery. The repetition and unrelenting insistence soon proved effective. I rolled out of bed just after 7:00 am and got dressed. Her design? SHE wanted ME to drive HER to the drugstore so that SHE could purchase MY birthday card. I pleaded with her.
Okay, I’m up!
Why can’t we have a nice breakfast and stay inside?
You don’t need to buy me a card or get me a gift.
It’s okay! It’s winter!
I was officially angry. I went on like this for some time, but who was I kidding? She and I both knew what was going to happen.
When we arrived at our local Shoppers Drug Mart, she led me straight to the cards. The card selection process was pretty straight forward with her – I was instructed to select the card with (1) a colourful floral, animal or landscape design on the cover and (2) lots of writing on the inside. With the card selected and purchased, we were on our way back home. Perhaps I could go back to sleep?
At home, my grandmother had another request. SHE wanted ME to address the card to MYSELF and sign off as if I were HER! Without dispute, I did exactly as she asked. By this time the rest of the house was getting ready for a big birthday breakfast, so I gave up on sleep and noticed that Nani had taken the card into our room where she was probably slipping fifty bucks inside before sealing it. She had been giving me fifty bucks for my birthday for as long as I could remember.
After dinner that night, my family presented me with a few gifts while we prepared to eat cake. That’s when my Nani proudly raised a spoon to my mouth, fed me my first bite of cake and presented me with a blank envelope. Whatever could it be?
I opened the envelope, read the card I had selected earlier that morning and thanked her for the fifty bucks she had given me. In that moment, I shared the pride she felt. Unable to read, write or speak in English, she was proud that she could somehow (and somewhat independently) manage to give her granddaughter a birthday gift. Now how can you stay angry at that?