My grandma turns ninety-six today, and we gathered in the nursing home yesterday to celebrate. I was just telling Jim: I love my mom's people. They're so chill. Just really nice people. They don't much get their feathers ruffled, and if they do, it's in secret. They stay out of each other's business and avoid high drama. They love each other well, I think.
I'd looked forward to seeing the family but hadn't held high expectations in terms of my interaction with Grandma. It's easier that way. It's been over five years since I've heard her speak my name, and anymore, seems like I understand her words but not necessarily how they're supposed to be working together. I want to blow a whistle at them and demand they get back in line.
We keep losing her in bits, but I love her, so I go. And isn't ninety-six an impressive number?
I knelt beside her with my low expectations yesterday, and the most surprising thing happened: she leaned over the side of her wheelchair and, with great passion, kissed me over and over again on the forehead. Then she sat up a little, looked me in the eyes, and said: "I like you."
Through my tears, I choked out: "You do? I like you, too!"
"Then we're for each other," she said and descended a second time upon my forehead with her rapid-fire kisses.