by Andy Bloom
CHIPPEWA FALLS, WISCONSIN - Let me tell you about my Grandmother, Betty Bloom. Born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin she was the youngest child in a family of nine. There was Clyde, Terry, Robert, Glenda, Art, Dotti, Michael, Michael 2 (or Michael As Well, as the bullies used to call him), and Betty my Grandmother. It wasn’t an easy life for my Grandmother and her siblings, they lived through some hard times. Two wars, a few economic recessions, and several Al Sherman albums. If you ever get a chance to talk to her and listen to her youthful stories, please do, her childhood was incredibly fascinating.
What is more fascinating however, is my Grandmother’s life after her earthly life. I understand entirely how that previous sentence might seem somewhat confusing, so let me be a bit clearer. My Grandmother is not dead. She currently lives in a Seniors Care Facility with many friends and family around her. However, in the last few years much has changed about her life. You see, my Grandmother Betty Bloom has finally achieved Transcendence. That’s right, my lovely old Nana has somehow manifested her consciousness into a higher realm of existence. So long Chippewa Falls and hello Existential Divinity!
On a recent trip to the Seniors Home, I had the chance to sit down with my darling ol’ Grandmother and talk to her about her premortal transition. I was curious how exactly it happened. She wasn’t too sure, but she did say this: “I’ve been eating a lot of fruits and vegetables lately. Apples, bananas, carrots, raw whole onions. Maybe that had something to do with it.” She answered sincerely, and without ego at all. I was still curious about how this sort of thing happens to an individual. It’s not often one gets an opportunity to sit down with a spectral entity and ask it a few questions. Like the old cliché goes, when life gives you lemons... consider asking those lemons what other realms of existence looks like (or something to that effect).
From the comfort of her cushioned rocking chair, my Grandmother still looked like the little old lady that I grew up with. But now, she claims to identify as Balthazar, the free- thinking superior being that can fly across different planes of the astral world. It is an odd thing for those around her to get used to, because everything Nana Bloom does now seems, unearthly. Her famous chicken soup can now float outside of the bowl without losing its shape, her oatmeal raisin cookies have lately been hosting colonies of diverse microscopic races, and her goulash tastes one hundred times better... But I think that’s because she just added a bit of salt. Yes, almost everything she can do in the kitchen nowadays seems to be nothing short of remarkable. Unfortunately, most people are frightened to eat it.
Thankfully, this hasn’t upset my Grandma in the least. With the new celestial energy that she is absorbing, her human spirit is perfectly content. She seems more focused now than ever, that proof is in her determination to win the coveted Best Cookie prize at the annual St. Martin’s Church Bake Off. When I asked her if she might reconsider her entry into the contest due to her unnatural powers, she told me not to be so foolish and that she was still going to bake her time-travelling peanut butter cookies because she had to “show that ridged bitch Edna who’s boss!”
Despite being a transcendental entity and all, the ones around her aren’t too impressed with her recent divinity. To be fair it makes everything more confusing for everyone else. For example, her knitting is getting a bit much for us regular-cognition folks. It wouldn’t be a problem usually, but she is persistent about handing them out as gifts. We’ve received open-ended socks, perpetual and everlasting scarfs, intangible ugly Christmas sweaters, and hypothetical knitted underwear. She told me in confidence over the holidays that she didn’t know knitted underwear was a thing until she achieved transcendence.
The worst gift was the hat that she knitted for my Nephew Frankie. It was your regular wool hat, except the wool was a colour that nobody had ever seen before! When Frankie was forced to wear the hat in front of Grandma, other people in the room would break into a cold sweat, shit themselves, and start jumping into on-coming traffic. The hat became a real serious problem. And of course, I was the one who ended up drawing the short straw and had to “take care” of the hat. After several months of planning I finally locked the hat into an airtight security safe, rowed a rubber dingy out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and threw the safe overboard. I mean, good grief! Who knew a new color could be so troublesome!
These crazy arts and crafts though are keeping her old mind active. She even sells her items at the annual Mystical Existence Craft and Fudge Fair, which is held in a community centre at the far end of the Universe. All the metaphysical beings are there to buy Grandma’s goods. She has bragged on several occasions that she has met some of the famous ones. The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, God, Cthulhu, and an extra-terrestrial protoplasmic lump of organic space matter named Guthrie who apparently loves knickknacks!
Although she is becoming increasingly popular with her new transcendental friends, her old pals back at the home are being quite catty towards her. They say that my Grandmother is not “keeping up with the traditions”, whatever that means. But Nana Bloom isn’t too concerned with what is being said about her. She told me that “What those ladies say is all bullshit! Those geriatrics need to mind their own business. Half of the things that they say about me is just plain rude. They don’t even say it — I just read their minds!”
Regardless how people perceive my Grandmother, Betty Bloom remains just as jubilant about life as she always did. Before I left the home last Monday, I had one last question to ask her for my column write-up. I asked her “Granny, what is the secret to life?” She thought about this for a minute, with absolute dignity and grace. She looked at me with her lovely time-honoured green eyes and exclaimed “Don’t masturbate with one hand!”