I was going through the mail a few weeks later when I found an airmailed envelope. I opened it up, find another envelope with Maxxie’s mom and gramps’ names on it, and, what I knew from experience without even looking at it, a wedding invitation. I looked at it, smiling when I saw Ava’s familiar handwriting, all swirly and pretty, inviting me and the kids to her and Ryan’s wedding and apologising for the notice being a little short. I’d heard all about the problems they were having getting everything booked on time, and they’d had to push the date back more than a few times, but it was nice to know they finally had everything sorted. I picked up the other envelope, grabbing my coat and rounding up the kids for a visit to grandma’s.
I knocked on the door outside their house, holding the kids’ hands as we waited. It wasn’t exactly cold out, but I didn’t want their hands getting cold. I smiled as Maxxie’s mom answered the door.
"Guess who" I said and she smiled back.
"Hey guys" she said, hugging the kids.
"How's the old man?"
"Mind if we come in?" I smiled.
"Sure. You guys want anything?"
The kids both asked for some soda, and I told her I was fine, heading for the living room since I knew that’s where gramps would be. I smiled when I saw him sat in an armchair, watching TV like the old man he was.
"Hey" I said, still smiling.
"Hey kiddo" he smiled back. "How're you doing?”
"Not too bad, thanks. And yourself?"
"Well I'd rather be outside playing tennis or something, but the arthritis is being a bitch" he laughed.
"Sorry to hear that" I said, laughing slightly and he chuckled.
"Don't worry about it. Looks like my age finally caught up with me, though"
"You might want to keep it at bay for another couple months" I said, handing him the envelope.
"I plan on keeping it at bay for much longer than that" he said as he opened it and I smiled. "They're finally getting married? That's great" he grinned and I nodded.
"And it's only taken them like a year to plan the thing" I chuckled, making him laugh. "And they've asked Lily to be bridesmaid and Danny and Riley have been put in charge of keeping the rings safe"
"And their other kid? They had another kid, right?"
"He's being a flower girl" I announced and gramps laughed.
From what I’d been told, he’d asked right off the bat if he could be flower girl. They’d been going to ask him if he wanted to be a page boy like his brother, but Ava’s maternal instincts had kicked in and, in her words, whatever her baby wants, her baby gets. Ryan had grumbled about it, but he gave in, in the end.
"Well congrats to the both of them. I thought I'd be six feet under before either of them saw any sense" gramps said, re reading the invite.
"I'll be sure to let them know that" I laughed.
"I'll be there to tell them that myself" he grinned.
"I'd say the warm weather out there might do you some good, but given how Maxxie reacted to it, I'm not so sure"
"Maxxie was a pussy" he laughed. "I loved the boy but he never did like the hot weather"
"Daddy was a cat?" Lily asked from the other side of the room.
"Yup. Did you never see all the fur he left all over the place?" he asked and she shook her head. "Well he did. When you weren't looking he was the fluffiest cat in the world"
"Go make sure your brother's not causing trouble" I said, laughing.
"He was certainly high maintenance like the fluffiest cat in the world" gramps said once Lily had gone.
"Are you picking on my husband?" I chuckled.
"Maybe a little" he laughed. "But I don't hear you denying it"
"If he was, I didn't notice"
"Huh, as far as I can tell most guys that like dick are pretty high maintenance," he laughed, "So why would you notice? Alex was always preening whenever he was around. Couldn't get that boy away from a mirror" he said and I chuckled. "Tell me, how is Alex these days anyway?"
"He's good. Him and Caleb are as adorable and horny as ever"
"Tell him to come visit. He knows I still consider him family. Bitch hasn't visited in years" he sulked.
"I will" I smiled.
"Thanks" he mirrored my smile.
"Wait, does that mean I'm high maintenance?" I asked, smirking a little and he grinned.
"I'm insulted" I said, pulling this fake hurt look.
"Why? I never said it was a bad thing" he chuckled.
"You know I'd never be mean about you" he said, punching my arm gently when I pouted. "What're your kids doing anyway? They better not be destroying my house"
"They're probably scamming candy and cookies out of your daughter"
"Those are my cookies" he said, looking more like they were destroying something precious.
"I'll buy you some more" I laughed.
"Take me out to buy them?" he asked, giving me the puppy eyes. "I'm bored of this chair"
"Hadn't I better get clearance from your nurse?" I chuckled.
"No, no, smuggle me out. I'm begging you"
"Alright" I said, letting out this big dramatic sigh.
He got up, squishing me in a hug. "Did I ever mention that I love you?"
"You might have" I said and he grinned.
"Karen, look after the kids, I'm going out" he said, pushing me towards the door.
"Wait what?" Maxxie’s mom asked and I opened the door.
"Run" gramps said and I laughed, walking calmly to the car while he ran over to it, getting in when I unlocked it.
"Dad, get back inside!" Maxxie’s mom called, opening the front door.
"Don't worry, I'll bring him back safe and sound" I said, getting in.
"You better, Hadley" she said, and I drove off.
"She knows where you live, y'know. And she has your children" gramps said.
"Which is why we're going for cookies and nothing else"
"Not even a quick stop at a strip club?"
"Nope" I said and he sulked. "I don't think Sarah would be too pleased about me going to a strip club"
"Sarah? She's your new chick, right?"
"Why would she care if you go to a strip club? You're not even going for you"
"She seems like the type that'd hold it against me for a long time, even if I wasn't going for me"
"Wow. That's harsh"
"Especially so if I went to the kind of strip club you wouldn't be interested in" I said and gramps arched an eyebrow at me. "In her words, boys aren't supposed to share beds with boys"
"She seems like a dick. Why're you with her?"
"Because she's nice really"
"Apart from the homophobic, mildly possessive thing, she sounds like a lovely lady, yeah"
"She just has mood swings, I guess"
"Well you're welcome to wait outside the strip club" he said, sounding hopeful.
"Cookies. And if you behave yourself, I might even buy you a porno mag"
Gramps sighed. "It'll do, I s'pose. I never get to go to strip clubs anymore. Karen's convinced I'll have a heart attack in one. That'd be the best way to go though, right?"
"If you say so" I laughed.
"I do. Dying surrounded by a bunch of scantily dressed women sounds like heaven to me"
"Eww" I said, scrunching up my nose and making him laugh.
"Eww? How do you go out with a girl and say eww about them?"
"I'm entitled to say eww when I prefer guys. That and I'm happy just seeing the one woman scantily dressed"
"I will never understand that, but whatever. Each to their own"
Gramps went straight for his porno magazine when we got to the store and I shook my head a little, laughing. Was that was old age was like?
"What?" he asked.
"I thought you wanted cookies"
"I do, but look" he grinned, holding up a copy of Nuts. Which sounds more like it should be for gay guys, if you ask me.
I pointed at one of the women’s magazines, which featured a very cute, half naked young man on the cover. "That's more my style, old man"
"Like I said, each to their own" gramps said, wrinkling his nose up.
"C'mon, let's go get your cookies"
Gramps face lit up as we went and got them, and I picked up a few things for myself, pretending not to notice gramps picking up loads of unhealthy junk that’d probably give him a heart attack just from sniffing them.
"What?" he questioned.
"You know she's just gonna take it all off you"
"No she won't. I'll hide it" he said, grinning when I rolled my eyes.
I bought him his stuff anyway, frowning a little when the cashier shot me a filthy look for buying a porno magazine.
"Just make sure you take it easy" I said.
"Don't, you're gonna end up sounding like her. I appreciate she doesn't want me to die, but it's boring being stuck in the house all the time"
"Can you blame me? You're the closest I've ever had to a grandpa" I said and he ruffled my hair.
"I just don't want to be a vegetable in a care home, Hadley. That's not a life, is it? That's relatives hanging on. Anyway, I've made it this far, haven't I?"
"I know, I know, just... Look after yourself, okay?"
"Since when do I do anything but?" he asked and I chuckled.
"We better get back"
"Do we have to?" he whined.
"You want to go to a strip club that bad?" I laughed.
"Hadley, I want to go anywhere that isn't that goddamn chair"
"Twenty minutes, no more, no less. And if you die in there, I'll kill you" I said, kissing his cheek, laughing as he danced out of the store.