It Just Is

March 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Baby Weight (Evan) | 1 Comment

It’s Saturday and Grandma is doing her all day grocery shopping thing – shopping, getting her hair done, visiting with the other ladies.  Her granddaughter didn’t go with her this week and is home with her Grandpa who is napping.  The 10-year-old takes her place in the familiar setting of home.  TV on.  Toys out.  Imagination flowing.  She’s still in her pajamas and the May sunlight is warming the living room. 

The floor drops.  She cautiously looks around the room when she gets that feeling… the dive of a roller coaster, the fall you sometimes get on the edge of sleep, the hole when your stomach gets carved out with fear.  Nothing.  The television screen is still filled with Pooh Bear, the My Little Ponies are still scattered across the room.  She’s still warm.  Shook up, she blames her imagination and picks up Peaches ‘n Cream and a little hair brush.

The phone rings.  Carol, Grandma’s best friend, is calling for her.  “She’s still at the grocery store.  Do you want to talk to my Grandpa?”  A little confused, she says no and ends the call.  “Carol doesn’t talk to Grandpa on the phone… why am I being so silly?”  She thinks to herself.

Grandma is sitting on a salon chair, hair done,  and laughing the with stylist.  Suddenly she sits straight up and checks her watch, “My God it’s already 2!  I have to go.”  She’s just as confused with her sudden departure as the stylist is.

A little bored, the little girl toes the doorway into Grandpa’s room.  He might jump up and shout “BOO!”… a little joke he always played on her when he was not in a deep sleep.  He doesn’t do that and she goes back to the living room after she takes a popsicle from the freezer.

After the popsicle is gone and her mouth is stained red, her Grandma steps though the door.  The girl is uneasy and she doesn’t know why.  She watches her Grandmother put away the groceries and sits at the dining room table.  “I’m going to see what your Grandpa wants for dinner”, Grandma says as she walks down the hallway to the bedroom.  The girl watches her disappear into the bedroom as the floor drops again.

She’s remarkably calm when her Grandmother stumbles out of the room with a phone in her hands.  A phone that is bouncing around between her quaking hands.  The little girl looks into the huge scared eyes of her Grandmother and says, “Do you want me to go to Aunt Weezy’s house?”  She doesn’t wait for an answer.  She gets up, stuffs her feet in some sneakers and walks out the front door in her nightgown. 

Grandma manages to dial 911.

The little girl walks down the street.  Down past her other grandparent’s house; her paternal grandparents that live across the street.  She walks past Carol’s house, her Grandmother’s best friend who called earlier today.  She walks up to “Aunt” Weezy’s house.  An old woman who the little girl doesn’t know well.  A friend of the family’s like most of the people in the neighborhood.  There’s no explanation why she’s here.  It just is.

A fire engine rolls past her without a sound.  It’s lights are turning.  She little girl catches the fireman’s eyes and points him down the street.

She knocks on the old woman’s door.  “Something’s wrong”, she says.  It just is.  Aunt Weezy shuffles her into the dining room and pours her a glass of milk.  The little girl thinks about how much she hates milk as she take a polite sip. 

The world slows and speeds up at the same time.  It gets dark and she’s not sure if it’s nighttime yet or not.  Things get blurry.  The clock’s second hand isn’t moving as fast as it normally does. 

The little girl knows her Grandfather is dead.  It’s like she’s always known.  It just is.

Her Grandpa who fixed her breakfast and lunch and spoiled her beyond reason.  The man who took care of her and took her bowling with him and treated her like a best friend.  The man who played with her and was the closest and the world to this little girl.  He was dead.  It just is.

Then the world sped up so fast that she didn’t see it and she was suddenly walking back into her house.  Her house that was filled with friends and neighbors and police men.  Her house that was absent a Grandfather.  In the middle of all of that was her Grandmother.  She looked smaller which was inconceivable because Grandma is the one who works her tail off.  At night at her job and during the day at home.  While Grandma worked Grandpa stayed with the little girl.  The little girl wasn’t nearly as close to her Grandmother as her Grandfather.

She watched.  Police men sitting at the table after their shift.  Familiar faces doing familiar things.  Grandma talking to everyone; a cigarette in her still-shaking hand.  Grandma’s talking to someone and she’s OK and then she isn’t.  Something shifts in the little girl’s head and she purposefully strides over to her Grandmother.  She stands between her and the person she’s chatting with, suddenly protective.  She gets her Grandma an ashtray because the ash on her cigarette is about to fall and Grandma’s too distracted to notice.  She fills her Grandma’s coffee cup.  She says something to distract her when her eyes get wet again.

Her job it so protect her Grandmother.  This strong woman in her life.  The one that used cooked dinner and clean house before a 10 hour shift as the girl sat on her Grandfather’s lap and played.  The little girl knew that now that Grandma had lost her husband, it is her job to be strong and protect her.  It just is.

She doesn’t cry.  Not for years.  Not about this.  She’s sad but abnormally logical.  She’s so sure that she has to be strong that it feels like a command from her Grandfather post-mortem.  She believes that her love for him is so powerful that she would get that message and trusts in it.

The bond with her Grandmother thickens.  They become friends and they talk openly and sneak out for ice cream in the middle of the night.  The little girl realizes that this woman loves her like her Grandfather did.  She’s surprised and she’s not.

20 years pass and Grandma is no longer that strong woman in body.  She’s a frail 110 pounds and recovering from treatment for lung cancer.  Her mind is still so strong and willing and trapped in a body that can’t breathe and can’t hardly move.  She has more doctors than she can count.  Her body continues to break.

20 years pass and the little girl is a woman and a mother.  She’s living on the other side of the country from her Grandmother and is still her friend.  She’s still feels it’s her job to protect her.  She has no idea how to protect her from her body. 

I cry.  I have for years.  This is too much.  I’m so sure there is something I can do, something I can say to protect my Grandmother.  I feel like I’m failing my Grandmother.  I feel like I’m failing my Grandfather.  My Grandma tries to tell me that there is nothing I can do to protect her. 

It just is.

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  1. […] of normal now.  Getting prepared for the March for Babies walk.  Then 4 days later flying to Arizona and then 4 days after I get home from that flying to Florida.  On Mother’s Day.  Without […]


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