There were a few empty chairs, probably reserved for those who thought they had their sea legs, but were probably still in their cabins, warding off the evils of sea sickness.
Without missing a beat, Kora had already found her seat and had settled in. Her white, crisp linen napkin was spread across her lap. Her water glass, filled just minutes before, bore witness to her thirsty mouth as a faint lipstick stain embraced its outer rim. She reached for the bread basket and then for a pat of butter.
“Where’s my dang knife?” she asked anyone within earshot. “I can’t eat my bread without my butter.”
The rest of her extended family, all 18 of them, were finding their seats and preparing for the delicious meal ahead. The dining room was a bustling affair of chattering patrons, busy servers, and noisy young kids who, despite just having filled themselves up with burgers and fries on the Lido Deck just two hours earlier, were already complaining of being “so hungry.”
My uncle Blaine, age 75, had recently purchased for his mom Kora a headset and microphone ensemble that Grandma could use so that she could enjoy all of the dialogue during the noisy meal with her family. Of all of her faculties in life, her sense of hearing has been the one most notably affected with time and age. When she was in her mid-70s, she awakened one morning and while walking around the kitchen, she felt a loud pop go off in her left ear. Initially startled, she soon realized that she was completely deaf in that ear. She could hear nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Relatively unfazed, Kora did see a doctor about it later that day, and he merely confirmed what she already knew.
“Yes, Kora,” he diagnosed. “You are deaf in that ear.” Grandma must have shot him a look that suggested, “No kidding? I could have told you that. Now you expect me to pay you?”
So, we all learned over the years, if you have something good to say about Grandma, sit on her starboard side. If you have something negative to say, position yourself on her port side.