Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Rings and things

What are all of these crickets doing here? Oh dear, are they stuck in the cobwebs? No matter, we can share the space just the same. The following story wants to be here so that I can always remember it. You know how you always think "Oh, I could never forget this", and then life happens with a series of other things you are destined to remember, and eventually all of the words to the Glass Houses album are safely secured in your brain forcing some of those other once important things aside. I am happy that you are here with me...all five of you (yes, that might be an exaggeration at this point).

Today already had a lot going for it just by not being a Monday. I knew that my trip up to visit my grandmother was far from the sweet spot of bringing her down to the kitchen for lunch. Most likely I was going to arrive in prime napping time, and had no real goals beyond saying a quick hello. As I turned the corner, I saw some of my favorite "friends" gathered in one of the more homey seating areas. Wait! There was my grandmother sitting there with what one could call "the cool kids". She excitedly shouted my name and waved to me, scooching over to make room on the couch. I greeted everyone and sat down.

My grandmother was concerned about something, but it took me a few tries to get what the issue was. She was very concerned that her rings were not going to be ready in time for her trip home to Tupper Lake tomorrow. I went through the usual motions of scripts to ease her mind. Nell, one of the activity directors was nearby and offered her support as well. Apparently my grandmother was planning to get married tomorrow (hence the rings), and she was feeling that last minute stress that many brides feel. We talked about how the weather might not cooperate for her trip, but certainly everything would be fine. The woman sitting next to her was very concerned about catching her bus and expressed her annoyance that her husband (who I believe is no longer with us) hung around when she didn't want him to, but hadn't shown up today when she did want him. Nell and I offered reassurance to both situations, while exchanging knowing glances and smiles.

I got to visit with some of the other more conversational women about nothing in particular, just chit chat. It was lovely. Nell was painting some flowers on columns in the seating area that look simply incredible and add such cheer, as well as being fun to talk about. My grandmother was still bringing up her concerns about the rings, and where the rest of my clothes for the big day were, and continued to do so for almost a half hour. Somewhere along the line I found out that she hadn't napped at all yet, which is incredibly rare. I wondered if it was adding to her mild agitation. Despite saying she was tired, my grandmother would not accept my offer to bring her in for a nap. She was easy to convince that everything was going to be fine, and the rings would for sure be ready. The problem of course is that thirty seconds later, she would forget that I told her the rings would be ready. She asked me if weddings were always like this. I told her that it really is a lot to do, but it comes together.

I asked her who she was marrying, hoping with all of my heart to be treated to some anecdote about my late grandfather. However, she did not know who she was marrying (which seemed far more concerning to me than whether the rings would be ready, but I kept my mouth shut). We just kept going around, but what did it matter? I was in good company, feeling the warmth of the eighty degree thermostat as well as these additional lovely women who all were willing to share their smiles despite never remembering who I am. I asked one of my favorite little ladies where she was going at one point and she said "to find you" and came over to give me a little side hug. In the grand scheme of the best I could hope for in the situation we have found ourselves in, I was pretty sure this was it. And then...I smelled the freshly baked cookies. Next thing I knew, Margaret (another activity director) was coming through with her cart offering tea and cookies. Suddenly nobody was worried about catching buses or rings being ready thanks to the delicious distraction.

The next time my grandmother told me how tired she was, she was more accepting of the idea of going to lay down for a bit. As we walked to her room, she stopped and looked down at her pants. She said she was ashamed to wear that outfit to the wedding, but I assured her that her other outfit would be ready tomorrow as well. As I tucked her in, she asked me if everything was going to be ok. I responded "Yes, everything will be fine." I talked to the remarkable aides who would be caring for her for the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening, making sure they knew about the rings and wedding. "Everyone will make sure everything is fine."