Grandma didn't know us, and when I told her I was Sherry's daughter, it didn't seem to register. She was happy to see us, though, and hold the baby; I could hardly wait to lie him in her arms. "How... How... How...," she said, and I knew the question for which she was grasping but forced myself to wait her out. Finally, she asked: "What's the age of the child?"
"Five weeks," I told her.
"He's really cute," she said. "I had them. Boys and girls." Later, in her room, she looked at Clementine and said: "Pretty hair. I used to have hair like that." And she did; I've seen pictures of her long curls. Those were the only two things she said, while we were together, that proved she remembered something of who she used to be.
When I hugged and kissed her goodbye, I wondered if it were for the last time, and it might've hurt me. Except I'd wondered the same thing so many times before and, suddenly, all I could see was an opened gift: how she's 94, and I'm 38, and how--even if she doesn't remember it--we've had so much time. How she's held and loved, now, all of my babies.
"Goodbye, Grandma B.," my two-year-old volunteered. "I love you, Grandma B."
And Grandma smiled and said to the wee, red-headed stranger: "I love you, too."
**A special thank you to my friend Sharon Pleasants, who, with all the love in her heart, gave me two (more) days of her life. I couldn't have made the trip without her. Thanks, also, to Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Carolyn, who welcomed my crazy tribe in and gave us beds...and pancakes.