More Than One Way To Skin A Cat


My grandmother had a condition.  She would be fine one moment, and then inexplicably lose the use of her legs. My grandmother was also incredibly stubborn and independent. Accepting that she would need to occasionally use a wheelchair was just not going to happen.

When I was 11, we took a plane trip to visit relatives.  The trip was really for her, but she couldn’t go alone, so I ended up as her travel companion. It was on the return trip that we ran into trouble. It was our final layover.  We arrived in Charlotte, and were waiting to board the little twin engine Cessna that would return us to our hometown.

There were only six of us on the flight. We had been traveling since dawn, and were all ready to get home.  The gate attendant had called repeatedly for a wheelchair to take my grandmother to the plane.  He was frustrated. My grandmother was frustrated. Then he asked if she can walk the “short” distance to the plane if he escorted her.

“Of course I can,” she replied. “Let me have your arm.”

“NO! No, she can’t.” I said, “This is a bad idea. A VERY bad idea.”

“Hush up!” she said.  When my grandmother said hush up, you did it.

So off they went, arm in arm, like they were the king and queen of the prom. I thought, “Mama is going to kill me when she finds out.”  We almost made it to the plane, and then it happened.  Her right leg buckled under her and down she went.

Now everyone completely panicked. She was ticked off because she fell. They were afraid to move her, in case she was hurt.  I’m stood there with my arms crossed, and shook my head.  A couple of maintenance men saw what happened and rushed over.

Then I heard, “You know, there is more than one way to skin a cat.”

My grandmother grabbed one of the maintenance guys by the shirt, dragged him down to her and asked, “Is that a hand dolly I see over there?”

He looked kind of confused for a moment and answered, “Yes ma’am, it is.”

“Great! Bring it over here.”

He hesitated a moment.

“Bring it!” she barked at him.  He took off running and soon came back.

“Now, you men, stop that squawking and help me stand up on that dolly!” She directed them with her fingers.  The attendant started to protest, and she gave him a look.  He shut up.  I knew that look.  He was smart to be quiet.

My grandmother borrowed a couple of belts from the men, strapped one around her waist and made me tighten the other around her knees.

She whirled her finger in the air and said, “Take me up boys!”

At the top of the stairs, she unbuckled herself, slid into her seat, and grinned at the pilot.

“I told you there was more than one way to skin a cat!”

(illustration courtesy of Davi Sales/