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Bowled Over By Grandma

By Keri Kelly

“You’ve done a lot of amazing things with your life,” I said to my grandmother as I parked her wheelchair in front of the fish pond. My God-loving, church-devoted grandma was nearing 100 years old, and I just adored chatting with her about her long life.

After I adjusted the afghan on her lap, I sat on the concrete bench next to her and watched the colorful koi fish suck up floating pellets like carp vacuums.

“And you’ve experienced so much,” I said. “Like the Spanish Flu, two world wars, the Great Depression. You were married to grandpop for 66 years, volunteered at your church for over 50 years, taught Bible School, substituted at the local schools, raised three children, helped babysit six grandchildren and enjoyed 10 great-grandchildren. That’s a lot of living.”

“Huh?” she said, sucking on hard candy. Her hearing wasn’t the best these days.

“I said, you’ve lived a long life.” Whenever I thought about my grandmother, I always admired her devotion to her church. She sang in the choir, taught Sunday School and led the children’s room for decades. She just loved her church, and her church loved her back. So much so, they honored her every year at Mass and showered her with birthday gifts.

“I’ve been fortunate.” She smoothed out the afghan on her lap.

“So, out of all that living, what was your favorite thing in the whole wide world?” I asked this question even though I already knew at least three possible answers.

She watched as a bright orange fish opened and closed its mouth as I patiently waited for her obvious answer. Church, grandpop or her kids.

After a minute or two, she whispered, “bowling.”

“Huh?” This time it was me who had the hearing problem.

“Boy, did I love bowling.”

“After all that, you loved bowling the best?” Did I even know this woman sitting next to me?

“Yes!” She nodded. Her eyes were bright. Her smile was wide. “It was my favorite thing to do in the whole wide world. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Ever see my trophies?”

I did recall the trophies. Lots of them. “You loved bowling even more than raising your kids, the church?”

“Oh yeah.” She nodded. “I loved that sport. And boy, do I miss it.”

The next day, I took the kids bowling, and Grandma was right. It was pretty fun.

 — Keri Kelly

Keri Kelly is a professor, award-winning author, comedy writer and mom. When she’s not writing, Keri can be found surfing small waves with her kiddos and fist-pumping at the Jersey Shore. Learn more and say hello at

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