I arrived at my grandmother's apartment this afternoon with lunch in hand for the two of us. I was supposed to take her out for lunch, but she said was feeling weak and would I mind if we just stayed inside instead. So I brought sandwiches on rye bread and coffee with me.
When I arrived she buzzed me in and in the front foyer there was a soft buzz of conversation by all the old ladies sitting around. That is until I walked passed them. They grew silent and wide eyed when I said hello. They all sat around and reminded me of old ostriches, for some funny reason. Curiously arching their necks, I suppose they were wondering who I was there to see.
When I walked into my grandmother's place she was waiting for me inside, propped on her walker and smiling from one pearly earring to the other. I secretly wanted to burst into tears. She has become so frail and feeble. But it's not her aging that makes me want to cry. It's her desire to keep going and not allow herself to fall apart, even though her body would have it otherwise.
For a woman who is 87 years old, she is still beautiful to me. She still gets nicely dressed. I'm not talking velour jump suit and orthopedic shoes either. I'm talking pretty turtle necks, tasteful jewelry, shoes and socks that match and always, lipstick. I adore this woman and she adores me.
As I walked into the kitchen I saw that she had already set her little table for two. Complete with wine glasses! And cheese cut up with tooth picks sticking out the top along with a little pyrex cup filled with sliced pickles as our hors d'oeuvres. It was such a humble little setting, but the fact that she took the time to prepare it for me touched me deeply.
She sat down and I distributed our tasty meal. We had such a lovely time. Talking and laughing together in her kitchen. We drank pomegranate juice out of the wine glasses. " I know! Let's get drunk!" She chuckled.
Then after I cleaned up we moved to the couch and she asked me to read the stories that she has been writing for the newspaper that circulates around her building. Now how do you like that? Eight seven, hands disfigured from arthritis and she is hand writing her memories and posting them for the enjoyment of others. I read her stories out loud. Stories about the circus coming to town, about growing up during the depression and about helping to harvest the tobacco fields in Massachusetts. I didn't even know that tobacco could be grown in Massachusetts.
We sat and continued to laugh and ate chocolates and be still and enjoy one another. Eventually though, I had to go. "Are you sure you don't want a cup of tea, or a piece of pie?" She asked me. I wanted to say yes so badly, but the lump that began forming in my throat when I got there was becoming harder to swallow. "I wish I could, but I need to get going." I said. "It's just that, I don't know if I'll ever see you again." She said. This was killing me now. "You'll see me again." I reassured her, but I think I was also trying to reassure myself. "Well, I want you to have this she said and gave me a beautiful silver ring that she got out of a little box and I want you to take anything else that you want from here with you. " "I can't." I said, fighting the tears that were brimming. I took the ring because she gave it to me, but I couldn't bring myself to go around and shop for whatever else I wanted.
"Wait, I want you to have this too." She said and handed me some cash. "No, please." I pleaded. "Take it. I want you to have it." So I took the cash and stuffed it in the back pocket of my blue jeans. My grandmother is so broke, she's like the widow who gave the two mites in the Bible. Only my grandmother gave those two mites to me.
I gathered my things. Told her I loved her. Hugged her little body and kissed her wrinkled cheek. "I love you too, My Little Honey Bun." She said to me. (That's what she's always called me.) Then I smiled and walked out the door. I fought back the tears as I walked down the hallway and out to the car. But before I reached the car I turned around to see her waving from her window and I waved back and shouted as loud as I could "I LOVE YOU!!"
Then I got into the car, drove off and pulled over by the side of the road and dissolved into tears. I cried because she is so old and unwell. I cried because I only get to see her twice a year. I cried because a generation in my family is dying off and I can't hold on to anyone.
This is what I think about my grandmother and the elderly in general. I think they are really precious. I think they are also sorely overlooked in our society today. It breaks my heart over and over again. I think about them being alone, being sick, being poor, not having people to come and visit them. I can't stand it. So when I go home, I 'm gonna try and do something about it. But I'll keep that private for now, I gotta work out the details....
She's Having a Baby
4 years ago