“How I Got Busted … This Time,” column for March 26, 2013

Call it self-imposed exile. Or solitary confinement. Or witness protection. Or whatever.

Three days ago, I flew from my home in Las Vegas, to Monterey, Calif., to visit my children and grandchildren.

It had been two months since my last visit, and I was looking forward to it. Two months is a long time to go without seeing people you love, especially little people who change so fast you can blink and the next thing you know they’re shaving.

Randy is 2 and a half. Henry is 18 months. Wiley is almost 3 months old. Talk about cute. I wish you could see them.

Their parents are cute, too — have been for as long as I can remember. The difference between the big people and the little ones is not how I feel about them. I love them just as much. But the big ones seem to remember me no matter how long we’re apart. As well they should. I’ve spent years reminding them. (“I’m your mama; don’t forget me.”)

The little ones, however, barely know I exist. Each time I see them, it’s like starting over, and I have to try to impress them all over again. It’s not easy to make a good first impression, especially more than once.

Actually, Randy is old enough now that he seems genuinely glad to see me when I show up after months away. Or at least he’s polite enough to pretend. Either way, I’ll take it.

Henry gives me a long look, followed by a grin as if to say, “Wait. Aren’t you that woman who promised to buy me a car?”

Wiley just stares at me and sucks his fist and wonders why I’m biting his toes.

On the first day of my visit, we decided to take the boys to a studio to make their pictures.

The photographer, bless her, shot dozens of poses, including one of the three of them piled up like a litter of pups with Henry on the left and Randy in the middle, hanging onto Wiley with a chokehold. I’m having it enlarged to billboard size.

After the photos, we went out to lunch. Randy ate chicken strips. Henry had mac ‘n’ cheese. Wiley sucked his fist. I don’t know what I ate, but it tasted like the best thing ever.

We talked about things to do while I was in town — the beach, the park, the aquarium. The week would go by way too fast.

Then, the next day, I got sick. Sore throat. Headache. Stuffy nose. Not something you want to give to three little boys. Or even to their parents.

So, OK, I did a bad thing. I didn’t lie about it exactly. I just didn’t quite tell the whole truth.

Usually, when I visit, I trade off between houses — my daughter’s and my son’s — to spend time with each family.

This time, in a selfless effort to keep my germs to myself, I decided to let each think I was staying with the other. When, in fact, I’d checked into a hotel.

I knew if I told them, they’d never let me do it. So I did what they used to do when they were teenagers. I didn’t tell them the whole story. It seemed only fair.

Of course, I called my husband to tell him where I was staying. (I didn’t want to end up dead in a hotel and have people wonder what I was doing there.)

And it would have worked like a charm, if not for one minor hitch. My son dropped by my daughter’s house and said, “Where’s Mom?” And she said, “She’s at your house.” And he said, “No, she’s not.”

And that’s how I got busted.

When you’re my age, you shouldn’t have to explain yourself to your grown children. And their spouses. And your grandchildren. And their dogs. Especially when you’re sick.

Which I am.

But it’s not the first time I’ve ever had to explain myself, and it probably won’t be the last — if I ever get well enough to check out of this hotel.

I hope they remember me.


  1. Sharon we to have a grandchild who lives far from us. We live in Iowa he lives in Florida. We have Skyped since he was born. There are 3 sets of Grandparents and we all live in Iowa. He is now five and he loves to Skype. The first time we say him he was laying on his dads chest and we were so delighted to see him. We oohed at every move. Our Son & Daughter-in-law were very sensitive to the fact we were so far away and we have literally watched him grow up on Skype his first smile, his first roll over, his first steps, his first words. He now interacts with the computer bring his latest cars to to show us. He has been calling us on his own since he was 2. I pretend to tickle him with my fingers by the camera. He has such a bond with all his grandparents and when we do get to visit it is very special and no getting acquainted is necessary because he has seen our face regular. When he gets wiggly he has the whole living room to run around in and of course we love catching up with the big people also. Just thought I would toss that out there it is a wonderful tool and very user friendly. Love your column

  2. Sydney Love says

    That was such a funny story. You made my day and brought me a really good laugh. I suppose it was so funny to me because it sounds exactly like something I would do.
    Hope you are feeling better and had more time to love on those little grands.
    Sydney Love

  3. Sharon,

    Another great column, Sharon. I hope you’re better now.

    Happy Easter!


  4. Alice M. Anderson says

    You poor dear. So sorry your Monterey trip, tripped you up. You’re probably the world’s best Mom and grandmother thinking of the healthy ones instead of one sick and needy woman you were! Hope you continue your “How I ‘ Got Busted” ….you were bailed out and had a delayed, happy visit. All of us need you. Alicemarie born in Tennessee.

  5. Garnett Zamboni says

    What a delightful story Sharon,
    I don’t think there is a more lonely or empty feeling than being sick while staying in a hotel. Yes it’s clean, and no you don’t have to pick up after yourself, or cook for anyone, but then no one cares either. And so I wish a speedy recovery so you can go to your own bed and feel the comfort and love of those who don’t really care if you can’t pick up after yourself right now. Blessings. Garnett Zamboni

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