Perhaps I should explain to you, at the outset, that I have a mental scrapbook. That I quite intentionally take snapshots of profound or poignant moments in time and file them away, hoarding them for later. The first time I did this was in Egypt, riding in a taxi through the City of the Dead while eating an apple; but that’s another story for another time.
Today’s snapshot is one that I just found myself describing in a comment on Me + Richard Armitage, Servetus’ exceptional blog. It is one of my last memories of time spent with my grandmother, and talks about the bitterness and the sweetness of such moments, and why I choose to construct my snapshots the way I do.
“I try to create mental snapshots, a kind of a scrapbook of good moments that I can go back to later. From my last days with my grandma, I remember having cookies and milk with her in her kitchen, holding her hand and trying not to feel the matchstick thinness of her bones, the soft sagging pouches of flesh hanging from those bones. I concentrated instead on the joy in her eyes, loving her so much in that moment that it actually truly hurt. I get a lot of comfort mileage from those memories now, especially as her husband, my step-grandfather, kept the mementoes that were supposed to come to us on her death. Well, he can keep the things. I have that joyous, sunlit moment in her kitchen; the taste of mint and chocolate in my mouth; and our cookie-crumb-filled, strong, trembling grip across the table.
The fact that later in the day, she wept and sobbed as I cleaned her in a private moment, from shame, from pain, from rage at her situation – I remember these things, and I can pull them out of my mental filing cabinet if I need them. But they are not in “the scrapbook”. They are part of the love and tenderness with which I remember her, but more from her bravery and ability to access joy in simple pleasures (sunshine, me, chocolate chip cookies) as she faced the indignities of age and infirmity, than from any pity or sorrow.”
Truth. I love you, grandma. You were strong, and you bore it as best you could. The fact that you were occasionally also a bit snippy to your caregivers, well, that happens. :} I’m sure I will be, in my turn. I wish you were here so I could paint your nails and rub cream into your arms and legs and talk to you about things, although I don’t know what you’d think about my divorce… you always did have a soft spot for K, as he did for you. :} Well. I miss you, anyway.
Sigh. Ok! Enough sadness! Moo (grandma) didn’t have a lot of patience with that. I think I’m going to go back to bed and dream of beautiful men.
It would be a vast improvement over an earlier dream, which was about making sushi with my brother. I had a knife, and a bunch of fish, and I had to do everything from cutting off the fish-heads to gutting them – it was disgusting. And because I had a peanut-butter-sandwich for lunch, I suspect, I ended up with a bunch of peanut-butter-sushi. Yuck. :p I would say that was a Bad Dream. Yessir.