Camille Dungy
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My maternal grandmother will be 90 this year*. That was news to all of us. We thought she was maybe 87, or she could have been 85. Recently she played the ingénue with a medical student who was reviewing her medical record during one of those semi-emergent routine check ups the elderly regularly undergo. When the young doctor-to-be asked my grandmother her age, Grandmother professed to be 77. My father, who happened to be in the exam room, and who is a physician at the medical school where said exam room was located, and who himself oversees the training of doctors-to-be just like the hapless young medical student in this tale, and who believes, partly because he is a doctor and partly because he trains doctors-to-be, that accurate medical histories are important, and who believes accurate histories are hard to establish when people fail to disclose the truth, and who believed the young doctor-to-be might not have the information she needed to recognize that she was not hearing the truth (my father has been my grandmother’s son-in-law over forty years and so he knows how convincing her “stories” can be and he also knows the women in that family tend not to wrinkle and therefore do not show their age, whatever that might be, so that the visual evidence might not contradict her new story), my father asked my grandmother, in the presence of the trusting young doctor-to-be, if she was really 77. “Yes,” said my grandmother. “That would mean you were eleven when your eldest daughter was born,” said my father. “Oh,” said my grandmother. Then she blushed. Then she giggled. “Well, that wouldn’t be right, now would it?”

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