Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the meeting.

the meeting.
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Meeting wrapped; colleagues ferried to the airport; rental cars exchanged (I'll be camping out on my own dime for the next few days -- working mostly, taking some vacation time, enjoying the weekend); Starbuck's goy bagel consumed; tea in progress; butterflies kicking up a good head of steam.

I'll sip down my tea over the next half hour, sign my birthday card to my grandmother and head over an hour early for her 89th birthday party.

I didn't tell her that I'm coming. Her Alzheimer's means that new information slips away from her almost as soon as its received, so had I called her to tell her chances were good that she would have forgotten by now or, had she remembered, it would have been in patchy little fragments of confusion that would lead her to visit and revisit the front desk of the assisted living facility where she lives, telling them that her granddaughter would be here today, and they would snicker and say no, tomorrow. And then say the same thing half an hour later when she returned to tell them again. Like she did the last time I visited.

She knew me then. I don't know if she'll know me now.

My grandmother is the storyteller of our family. She's our historian. Anywhere, always, threaded through conversation like laughter, she brings up fragments that she's told before, that we could recite line for line, but always when she tells it I want to hear it again. Even if it means I'm laughing before she ever nears the punchline, even if she never nears it because we've all dissolved into laughter just watching her get close.

I want to hear her tell a story again knowing we know it. Knowing we've all been there before, knowing it's these things we share -- these stories in common -- that mark us as family, as tribe, all the good and all the bad of what being family means.

I'm afraid instead she will be polite with me and approach me with reserve, the careful stepping that has to happen when you don't know folk well enough to tell them your stories, when you're still strangers to each other and uncertain as to how to behave.

I'm afraid that when I go now to meet my grandmother -- whose arms are my earliest memory, who used to squeeze me so tight that I couldn't breathe and I struggled to be free -- I fear that that this meeting with my grama will be her first one with me.

I fear that she won't know to hug me.

I'm afraid she's forgotten the stories.


I, Rodius said...

Ah, best thoughts that it's going well.

anniemcq said...

Sweet friend. You've inherited Grama's way with a story. I love you. Big hugs.

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