So, Grandma Noises. Mom’s face in the mirror.
I want to make it clear that I’m grateful for those things, and for Mom and Grandma and all they were to me and all they gave me.
I’m grateful I have made it to an age where I make Grandma noises.
I’m grateful to Grammie for being there in Maine, putting up with a snot-nosed, whiny, sad, bored, fat little punk like me, for two solid weeks, summer after summer.
I’m grateful I can see my Mother’s face in mine, and remember the good things she did for us, in her way.
Although they pretty much detested each other, my Mother came weekly to give Mike a day off when our daughter was an infant, driving 30 miles from the burbs into the city. It was a long, long day, because I was commuting 70 minutes each way and was gone from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. most work days, and Mike took full advantage of the time, as he should have. He needed the break.
Mom cared for our daughter, making nurse notes (she was a retired R.N.) and cleaning up where she could, in an under-furnished and unamusing townhome in a transitional city neighborhood.
She produced funds when funds were needed in the dark times of under- and unemployment.
She taught me to drive a stick shift, picking up keys and announcing we were getting in the car one day, totally unexpectedly, when I was 16.
She whispered when she sewed, drawing me in, and teaching me how to hem and mend. She was frugal. I am not, but at least I know how to hem a dress or a pair of pants and I have made clothes when I had to (a dying art, apparently – I had a coworker who walked around in too-long pants, because she didn’t know how to sew. I was gobsmacked. How could any neurotypical child who can safely handle a needle and thread reach adulthood without knowing how to hem a pair of pants?)
Mom made pies, rolling the crust out with sharp, fast, angry strokes, this way, then that. Once in the pie plate, she crimped the edges with grim determination.
Both Grammie and Mom made jam and jelly and chili relish and awesome chowder.
They often persisted long past my tolerance in demanding I hand over new clothes to be altered, get a haircut, or go outside when all I wanted to do was read.
But I wish I’d been more grateful, then, and that I had told them that I was.
I hope they hear me now, on the other side.
David Kanigan quoted the late Julie Yip-Williams, author of The Unwinding of the Miracle, on his Live and Learn blog recently. Ms. Yip-Williams wrote about her life with cancer (the same kind of cancer that took my Mike), and her book was published posthumously. There’s a review of it in the New York Times.
“Live while you’re alive,” she wrote.
I confess I haven’t read her book yet: but the Times review reveals that she meant “live while you’re alive” not in the bucket list, run-off-and-climb-a-mountain-or-run-a-marathon kind of way, but in the every-moment-no-matter-how-seemingly-ordinary-is-a-gift way.
To that I would only add, express gratitude to others, while they’re still here to hear you.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I do this – why do I blog?
(Seems to be kind of a theme, lately – Jungian synchronicity – I started writing this before I read Fractured Faith‘s or Writer of Words’s similar posts – but it seems several of us are currently thinking about what this blogging thing contributes).
For me, it started as a way to process grief, and just write. I love words (just ask anyone who has tried to get one in edgewise when I’m talking). Building words into sentences that convey ideas or emotions makes me feel at home. (There are few places I feel completely comfortable – sitting at my computer writing, singing, and speaking or performing in front of an audience are about it).
But I don’t want blogging to be just for me. I want it to be for you, the reader.
What have I done for you lately?
Have I given you something to laugh about, cry about, something to feel, something to enjoy?
Have I given you writing that is good enough for you to bother reading it?
Has it meant anything beyond just me, yapping about my little life?
Has it made my little life less little?
Have I told you lately that I love you? For reading, for commenting, for being there?
Mike died. What will happen when I do?
Will I have contributed anything of value to the world?
Would anyone say anything positive about me? Would anyone even show up?
Trying to listen twice as much as I talk (ok, laugh, but I actually AM trying) and thinking about how to use what small gifts I may have to contribute something positive to the world, I remain,
Your loquacious, grateful, perplexed, anxious, wondering what’s-it-all-about-Alfie,