Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Here and Now

Today is my grandmother's ninety-fourth birthday…94. My phone call to wish her a happy day was more of a reminder to her that this box on the calendar is one to call her own, than an expected greeting. It is a tricky business these days trying to figure out where her memories live, which ones have a firm enough grasp on their secure location in her brain to weather each passing year, month, day, hour. As expected, her long-term memory serves her far better than the here and now, but how far back in over nine decades we need to go for some clarity is hard to pinpoint. I have my own vault of remembrances, both highlights and lowlights, of our forty plus years together, but those have to take a back seat as I focus on navigating the now. Allowing myself to get caught up in sweet nostalgia makes the longing for what has passed, while her face is still right in front of me, simply too sad to bear. Wallowing in the times my grandmother and I have but heads through the years risks a grudge that could take any pleasure out of spending time together. We are back to the now.

I arrived the other day with a bag of groceries, and a positive attitude, to find my grandmother shuffling toward the door…her teeth were not in, one lens of her eyeglasses was missing, and the toilet in the bathroom nearby was making a high pitched siren type of sound that probably only myself and dogs could hear. I fixed the toilet, fielded some questions about my new car that I have had for two years, put away the groceries and tried to settle into our usual rhythm. She found her teeth, I did not find the lens to her glasses, nor her backup pair. Sometimes it only takes ten minutes to realize that some fresh air is called for. I went outside to put some mulch in the garden while she watched from her front window. I sent a text to my uncle about the toilet tank workings needing some attention, and the response included an inquiry as to whether I had found the television remote. Another addition to the trail of lost items. Typically there is no retracing of steps as her tiny frame barely leaves an imprint in the carpet, let alone in her mind, of where she has been.

I eventually made my way back inside to start my search and recovery mission once again. In my grandmother's bedroom, I noticed the pair of eyeglasses with the missing lens, but could have sworn she was wearing glasses when I passed by her seconds before. Yes, she had found the backup pair of glasses on a bench in the hallway - a bench I had passed by a few times. She had more hash marks in the win column than I did that day. My impressive feat was turning the television on without the missing remote control. I secretly snuck a remote from another room to change the channel, and quickly put it back, as there was no point in having two missing devices.

We watched Andy Griffith, a show I missed back in its heyday. I am now completely smitten with Sheriff Taylor, and forgive Don Knotts for his Mr. Furley character. No doubt there was much talk about the breeze outside, or lack thereof, and whether there was rain in the forecast. Very simple, really. Despite the madness of wondering where lost items have gone (my aunt found the remote control later that afternoon in the cookie cupboard), there is almost a sort of peace in the slow-paced quiet. I am grateful that my grandmother knows who I am when I walk in. There is no telling what memories she has tied to who I am and the patchwork of our history together, but in the now, I suppose that doesn't matter. We sit on the couch together, laugh at black and white tv shows from days gone by, try to guess the answers on Millionaire, eat cookies, and when I leave we tell each other "I love you". I think that might be just about all that matters for us right now.
6/5/16…My attack hair and leaping necklace don't make me love this picture any less because they are not what matters.


  1. I miss my grandmother, but I am happy that you get to spend time with yours!

  2. She is lucky to have you and you her.
    God bless her, give her a hug from me.
    Happy Birthday!

  3. that is splendid that you can help her out, cherish her, appreciate the memories, and play hide and seek with various items. Good for her - still in her house. Wow. I'd say this bodes well for your future - good genes. Your smiles say it all - she's got a great granddaughter. Thanks for sharing

  4. I'm so glad you can find ways to enjoy your time with her now. One day the other memories will be sweet to you, a treasure. I am also proud that your family has managed thus far to keep her in her own home. Happy Birthday to a precious soul.
    Barbara, blogging at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

  5. Thank you for a beautiful story that in its simplicity sums up how we feel as we slowly lose Gramma. Love you much.

  6. Awwww...!!! Happy birthday to your grandmother!!


  7. Can you come and be nice to my mom? She's 89 and I get so frustrated and sent into orbit with her.

  8. Oh I love this! I felt like I was right there with you two that day. My aunt turns 100 in August, and she doesn't remember me. Wonderful that you can still share this time with your grandmother.

  9. Yes, that is all that matters! What a touching and amazing story. I love the picture--so beautiful--and I wouldn't have even noticed the hair and necklace because, you're right, it isn't what matters in that picture...or even what you see.