Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thursday, August 7th

(The day before)

It started with a baby. I got into town at about 11:30 that morning, and my sisters and I went to the hospital. We took my brother a bottle of scotch. He has been a little anxious about being a new father. (And, by a little anxious, I mean, he's been a neurotic nut-bar about the whole thing.) It seemed like the perfect gift.

We went to the nursery to see the baby, but didn't get to hold her. She was getting a bath and then had to have a full hour of re-warming so that she wouldn't get hypothermia and brain damage. That’s what they say anytime you dare to question one of the labor and delivery policies or procedures…yada yada yada, brain damage. It's really a miracle that any of those kids who get their first bath in a sink, or a tub, or a river even survive. But, I digress.

We spent a little time with my brother and sister-in-law and then headed back to my parents'. It wasn't long before my grandma called to ask when I was coming over. I originally told them I’d be there early afternoon, but I was sort of dragging my feet. I couldn't seem to write what I wanted to write for my grandpa. Every time I tried, I felt like I might vomit. I finally decided I would just take a blank card and a pen with me. I thought maybe I could just bang it out in the car when I got there. As soon as I pulled up, though, my grandpa was standing at the front door, waiting for me. Shit. Now, I couldn't really sit in the parked car for 15 minutes and write.

I left my pen and the card on the passenger seat and headed in for dinner. I could smell the bacon cooking from the street. My grandma made a full pound for the three of us. Only two of us are really eating. Long story short, I ended up eating ¾ of a pound of bacon. Again, I felt like I might vomit, and that this might be the theme of the weekend--on the edge of vomit.

After dinner, my grandpa and I went out to the porch swing. The white swing has been on their side porch since I was a baby. Every night for the past 26 summers, my grandparents have been on that swing. On this particular night, my grandpa and I sat on the swing while my grandma sat across from us in a white wooden rocker. They told me about how they bought the swing at the Acme-Click for $19, and then, about how a man had another one just like it that he didn’t want, so they took it as a back up. The second swing hangs in their basement. When the tornado sirens go off during the summer, they go down there and swing until the weather passes. (And yes, that's both as incredibly sweet and as utterly ridiculous as it sounds.)

The three of us talked on the porch for over an hour, mostly about the neighbors. Occasionally, my grandpa would say something that would remind me that he doesn’t think he’ll be on this swing next summer, like when he talked about he asked the man across the street to put the window air conditioner in for my grandma next year. He has made plans, reorganized things in the house a bit, cleaned the garage. As we talked, I kept thinking, just find a little lull in the conversation and tell him what you want to say. Just tell him.

The first problem was in finding the lull. There aren’t a lot of those when you’re talking to my grandma. Finally, I decided I would just wait until she took a breath and interrupt. There aren’t a lot of those either. I think perhaps she has mastered circular breathing, or she has somehow slowed her metabolic rate to the point that she doesn’t require normal human quantities of oxygen. I couldn’t get a word in.

I was beginning to think I was just going to have to mail him a note, when finally, I saw my opening. Grandma got up for a moment, still talking, to peak around the house to spy on the neighbors. “Watch this,” my grandpa said. “There she goes, all subtle like.” He chuckled and rolled his eyes a little. I stifled a laugh.

When she turned to come back, still talking, I said, "Grandpa, I have a story for you. Grandma, you can stay and listen, but you’re not allowed to talk during this.” She looked a little surprised, but she put her hand over her mouth and said she’d try her best. He laughed and said, “Hey, I like this story already.”

And now, I must say, I have debated about whether or not to post the rest of this here. First, because it’s a bit personal. Second, and more importantly, because it’s a God story. I don’t usually tell those here. Mostly, because I think I suck at them. But, when I started this blog, I never imagined that actual live people would read it. I envisioned it as a virtual cork board, a place where I would stick little bits of life I may want to look at again later. It is in that spirit that I continue, despite my better judgment.

It went like this…

Well, Grandpa, this story is sort of about you. Hopefully, it won’t embarrass you. (My grandpa has a really hard time hearing anything good about himself. I was a little worried.) A few months ago, Mom called me to tell me that you were sick. And, well, I wasn’t really surprised. I mean, I was surprised by the call. I wasn’t expecting to have that conversation with her that night. But, I knew that you were sick. When Mom and I got off the phone, I was just sitting on my bed, and then…

Well, wait. Maybe I should back up a bit.

Okay. When I was with Ex, I didn’t really have a relationship with God. I mean, I talked to him, but it was always the same... I’m sorry for whatever I did to get into this mess, please help me out of it.
I’m sorry.
I’m sorry.

And then, after I left Ex, it was all, please just don’t let him hurt me.

So, you can imagine, after all that--seven years of the same two or three conversations--you wouldn’t have much of a relationship with anyone. And, I really didn’t have one with him.

I came out of that, and I was just kind of in this place where I didn’t really know who I was to God. I mean, there aren’t a lot of verses in the Bible for the divorced woman. There’s a lot there for women who are wives and mothers. But, I was left wondering, what happens when you screw all that up? I really felt like I might be a huge disappointment.

So, that’s what I told God. I said, "Look, I don’t know who you are, and I don’t really know who I am. And, I don’t know what to do about that."

In the end, I just kind of left it at that.

Then, one night, Mom called to tell me that you were sick. When I got off of the phone with her, I was sitting on my bed, thinking about you. But, as I sat there, I felt like I heard God. I wasn’t thinking about him. And, at that point, I was done looking for anything from him. But, there I was, and there he was.

And I heard him say, “T, when you think about your grandpa, when you think about how he loves you, that is me. That is how I love you. His love for you, that comes from me. Next time you wonder about who I am, think about him. I love you like that.”

And with that, I ended my story. With tears in his eyes, my grandpa said softly, "What an honor. What an honor."



Beautiful T, really, really beautiful.

Terroni said...

Thanks, Susan.

.j.william. said...

thanks. I could use a little bit of that as well.

Christine said...

Geeeeez ... warn me before you do something like that again. I'm blubbering over here.


One of the live people that reads your blog

Dear Prudence said...

And there you have your cardinal~xxoo

Alissa said...

my favorite post EVER. Ever. You're in my thoughts T.

Maria said...

I loved this whole post, especially the part about sitting in the basement swinging during inclement weather...

Those are the kinds of stories that draw us all together, humanize us to each other.

And I'm glad you heard from God, I really am.

Hahn at Home said...

Thanks for a wonderful inauguration to your blog, that was beautiful.

dive said...

You are amazing, T.
And dammit, you had me crying like a baby.

Amanda said...

wow. that was intense. tears everywhere and lots of love to you my friend. thank you for sharing.

Ms. Avarice said...

aw man thanks for making me cry! but i've heard god say that about folks before, definitely. it's very characteristic of god to give us an example of his love. i'm really glad that you got to tell gramps your story.

Sara said...

Really beautiful. I love the way you write, but more than that I love what you say. Thanks for sharing.