The phone clicked and I sat in silence.
I'd just heard my grandmother tell me from across the city, "Beautiful! That is so beautiful!" I heard my dad tell her, "That's your granddaughter Rachel singing to you." something muffled, and then, "Oh, it's just beautiful!"
My grandmother is struggling with pneumonia and refusing to eat. She's 100 years old.
She's the lady who had me over for countless sleepovers in her efficiency apartment. I was around 10 years old when she moved to our town, and there's one specific time I remember we walked the short walk to Osco Drug so I could get some quints dolls:
The apartment before that was across from a s*ex t*oy shop, and I KID YOU NOT PEOPLE WOULD WALK INTO THE SHOP WITH PAPER BAGS OVER THEIR HEADS. I woke up in the night once to get a glass of water, looked outside, and asked my grandmother what those people were doing. I honestly think she was as perplexed as I was!
My grandmother would feed you until your seams burst, and then, just like any good grandmother, she'd fill you full of cookies and more food. She'd roll you over to the tv set, turn it on, and as Law and Order: SVU comes on would say, "This looks like a lovely family show!"
Oh, grandma. Always there, and always predictable, and always saying she's 39, if you ask her. She can also list the names of her 11 brothers and sisters, forward and backwards...though tonight, she's telling my dad that she wants to "go and see Mama".
Her Mama has been dead for 75 years.
I guess maybe that's what I'm sitting here tonight thinking about. I'm thinking about those who told our stories before we had mouths to tell them, eyes to see the way the sun makes its way over plain old ordinary grass, lips to kiss and tell the ones we love that we love them.
Maybe in letting her go it's a letting go of the growing-up me, the a-little-unsure-on-my-feet me, the grandma-are-there-any-more-cookies-left me.
My grandma loved to drink a glass of orange juice a day and tell you it's what kept her healthy. I loved coming to her impossibly tidy apartment and I loved the way she smelled like molasses for days after making her trademark cookies.
Tomorrow I'm taking my family to go and see her. She usually thinks I'm a man, which is a total ego-killer, if I'm going to be honest, but to hear her not remember that her husband is gone and then go on to recite a 5-minute-long poem she learned in Norwegian when she was 7 makes the tears prick themselves in the corner of my eyes.
She's not perfect, my grandma, she's just like any of us, flawed and pieced back together, doing the best she can.
It's just...I guess it's just, well, the thing that puts a pause in me is that she's always BEEN There, living her life, every minute that I've been living mine, since before I was a thought in my father's mind, or before he was a thought in his father's. There's a continuity there that is so beautiful and it just feels wrong when it is coming to an end.
Tomorrow I'll go and see my grandma, and hug her and love on her for a little while, and then come back to my busy little house where things don't ever seem to stand still long enough for me to think about these things.
Life is such a mystery, isn't it?