477-4171 Closed Sundays 1607 San Jacinto A Texas Tradition Since 1866 No games, no gimmicks, no loud music. Just good conversation with the most interesting people in Austin. And the best of downhome cooking. CHEESECAKE ON THE RIVERWALK Serving sandwiches to seafood, from 11:30 until 11:30 every day of the week; open till midnight in the Metro Center, San Antonio, Texas good man. History will show it. He would have made a good president.” I thumped under his chin with my thumb and forefinger. “So Mackie, how bad is it?” “Pretty bad, I think. Doctors say it’s something to do with my heart.” He looked straight at me. “Well, look, have you seen ‘All the President’s Men?’ ” I asked. “No, no . . . not yet.” “Well, when you get a little better, the two of us will go. Say, we haven’t been to a movie together since that Jimmy Stewart show . . .” Grandpa had stopped listening. He exhaled and slumped back on the pillows, turning his face from mine. He spat at the plant. He said nothing. I couldn’t think of another word to say. Anyway, there wasn’t time. I could hear my father’s voice and my grandmother’s short, clickety steps in the hall. Grandmother had been out to get Mackie’s birthday cake. Now standing in the corner of the room, still holding the pastry, she let out a little shriek. “You pinned that picture up. Take it down.. Takeit down. I am so embarrassed. Take that down right now.” “I will not,” said grandpa. “Well, then, you can’t have any cake,” she said, close to tears. Turning to my mother, she shook her head. “I don’t know why he does this. He’s acting like a child. I don’t know what to do with him.” Mama took the cake, glancing at my father. Grandmother sighed long and loud and sat in the chair by his bed. She glanced around nervously. Finally, she opened her purse and pulled out a Newsweek. Nobody said anything. “I brought you this silly old magazine,” she said, rolling it up and tapping him on the shoulder. He turned to look at her, almost thanked her, then snatched the Newsweek and started to flip through the pages. “It’s the last one of those trashy magazines you get,” she said. He glanced up. “I cancelled your subscription,” she said. “Good,” he replied. “It’s too conservative for me.” She smiled slightly. “But I thought you liked it.” He stared at her until, finally he began to chuckle: he had caught on. Grandmother was teasing him, or trying. They both laughed. She held his hand. Pop cut the cake and we all sang happy birthday. Soon after, Mackie fell asleep and grandma walked me to the elevator. “So, how are you holding up?” I asked. “Oh fine, fine. He’s a little difficult now . . . he hates the hospital . . . but everything will be better when he comes home,” she said. “He’s coming home?” I asked softly. She looked surprised. “Why of course he’s coming home. He’s been sick before. He’s always come home.” “I guess he won’t be able to fix my breakfast for awhile. Maybe I’ll even lose a few pounds,” she confided. “Did you know Mackie has fixed my breakfast for the last 25 years? I mean, how many women can say their husband fixed them breakfast for that long a time?” I smiled. We linked arms. “But I tell you, honey, it’s been a nice break for your old grandma not to watch the 10 o’clock news with that man. He always is picking a fight with me. You should hear the terrible things he says about President Nixon.” She had stopped walking, put her hands on her hips and shook her head. “He is just the most difficult man.” Mackie died that evening. Grandma sat beside him, rocking back and forth, holding his hand. The nurse, who had talked to Mackie before he lapsed into a coma, told ‘my grandmother he had said only one word, which he repeated over and over. It was her name: Hazel. Grandmother planned the funeral. It was on a rainy Monday. That Saturday, she went shopping alone. She went to Neiman Marcus. She bought a new Stetson. It was expensive, from the spring collection. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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