we stayed up late that night while grandma told us stories, mostly ones we hadn't heard yet, about her father the world book salesman and her mother's decision to divorce back when nobody did that kind of thing. she told us how it all went down, all the gritty details. in that room on the second story of the sequoia house, while the light went down and until it was black outside, we talked and talked. and somehow, it seemed fated that our car, grandpa's van, would break down there of all places, and that we would finally take the time out of our crazy lives to get to know our grandma even better. somehow, it seemed necessary. she had just turned 87, after all.
we slept in the van that night, surprisingly well, with the dogs snuggled into us under the blankets, not as crowded as i would have thought. and in the morning, so early it was, 5 o'clock maybe, we awoke to the sound of grandma, shuffling by in her walker, anxious for a trip to Ihop and a real, hot breakfast for a change. Those cold scrambled eggs they served at the sequoia house weren't from a shell, after all. they were powdered, and just plain nasty.
grandma kept a surprisingly quick pace on the mile or so walk along that busy busy road to ihop. once there, we snuggled into a booth, drank coffee and ate as much pancake and eggs as we could. james thumbed through a phone book, and we all silently hoped for a mechanic with an opening that afternoon.