When grandma phoned me I could hear her, she just couldn’t hear me. It was her first real attempt to use her emergency cell phone. She refused to let me pick her up in Provo, only a forty-five minute drive away, for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert. Grandma, I chided, I live in DC. Everything is forty-five away, at least. It’s nothing. But she insisted on riding that new train instead. Frontrunner it’s called and the service from Provo was in its inaugural week.
She did arrive in Salt Lake. I knew because I got her call. But telling her to wait at the station when she couldn’t hear me didn’t help. The phone doesn’t seem to be working, she said sweetly, I’ll try again in a few minutes. So I dashed ten minutes across large streets and empty parking lots then jumped on a white Trax trolley car to head her off. The phone rang. She’d left the station to head in by herself. Uh oh, without an audible response from me, she could roam all night. Trax’s doors rang starting to close. I leapt out. Bounding into the departing trolley in the opposite direction I glanced out the window to be sure we faced town center. After a few street lights the trolley took a slow round arching south. I almost panicked. Wrong direction. I jumped out at the next stop. Another ring from grandma. I turned.
She looked lovely in her concert coat, holiday red, and globby gold earrings. She stood just outside the large malls across from Temple Square, I should have guessed, as if taking Frontrunner and Trax and getting a thirty-something to reply through a rectangular gadget was nothing. I, however, was breathing heavily just glad I hadn’t lost the mother of seven strong willed children.
We browsed the women’s clothing section of Macy’s first as I’d done with her more than a dozen times throughout my life. Luckily this time she kept her wallet in her bag avoiding a sale rack fashion show to be stuffed in my suitcase. For a bite we roamed downstairs to nab a gyro. Then we headed over for Alfie Boe’s Christmas debut with the MoTab. The Salt Lake Conference Center dwarfs me like a shrunken toy in comparison to its size but decor, singers, and orchestra in magnitude cheered and filled it well.
Singers caroled the magical Christmas orchestrations you’d expect from the MoTab. I glanced over at grandma. With so many children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren, to have a night out alone with her was rare, perhaps my first time. She’s impacted my life in so many priceless ways but to put it succinctly, she’s taught me how to live my life to the very end. Trying out Frontrunner in its first week and calling me from a device she’d hardly ever used before solidified it.
In 2015, my grandma passed away from Pancreatic cancer. She was exercising five days a week at the gym until it happened.