Tuesday, October 15, 2013
What I Want to Tell Grandma
I thought I was done processing my last visit with Grandma, and maybe I was, but then I made blueberry pancakes for six children, Sunday morning. Five of them gathered happily around the dining room table (although I guess I shouldn't speak for Samwise, who pretty much always gets sandwiched between the little girls), and Chippy ate in the johnny jump-up, bouncing between bites of a dry, blueberry pancake.
An hour or so later, after the choir special, I settled into the pew between Jim and Cade. My stomach commenced to growling loudly, which cracked Cade up but reminded me of Grandma; she used to tell how--when her kids were growing up--she'd come home from church nearly every Sunday with a rip-roaring headache. She said she'd realized many years after the fact (having finally been given some peace and quiet and time to think) that she'd pretty well always skipped breakfast, herself, on Sunday mornings, having been caught up in getting everyone else fed and out the door.
Sitting in church, listening to my stomach, realizing I'd forgotten to eat...I felt so close to her.
When Andrea and I visited, last month, she asked Grandma how many children she had, and Grandma said: "Two. Two was enough. He said two was enough. And that was alright." She had seven children and still does.
Andrea asked: "What are their names?"
Grandma said: "Richard and Mary Ellen." Later, recounting the story to Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Carolyn, we all laughed because--if what Grandma had said were true--none of us would've made it into the world, let alone the room.
The seven-kids thing was the part of Grandma that felt mysterious to me, back before her Alzheimer's and my little kids. I'd try to imagine it and couldn't. It didn't appeal to me at all; I'll tell you that. But somehow, I hit this tipping point after #4. (I was leaning hard after #3.) Extra kids make things seem easier, mysteriously, so I've taken to borrowing them and dreaming of a full-sized van. I feel deeply satisfied, cheerful, when my minivan is crammed full and the log cabin buzzes and rattles with the energy of my children, plus extras. Strangest thing.
I hardly recognize myself, sometimes, and I want to tell Grandma. I want to tell her I understand her better, now, than I ever have: how my proudest moments have become the ones in which Mom says I remind her of Grandma.
I want to thank Grandma for having so many children because #6 is my mom, and #7 (Mary Ellen) has impacted my life like precious few others.
So many things I want to say to Grandma, and no one else will do.