Today is Monday. It is the sixteenth day of Art Every Day Month, and I haven’t done anything creative today. Except if you call tweaking this blog site creativity, or maybe writing this post, but honestly I think that is stretching it a little too far. Monday is the beginning of the week, I had all these ideas planned, all the motivation and inspiration needed to create something really spectacular and I didn’t do a thing. I had a good start to the day, was up at ten of six, had a wash going by 6:20 and began tackling the ironing pile at 6:40! But the day did not go as I had planned…
I don’t understand why Mondays insist on being difficult the way they do. In theory, Mondays should be exciting, and vibrant. They start off the week, nothing should be daunting, we should be filled with hope, energy, possibilities – we have the whole week ahead of us, we’ve rested all weekend, we have plenty of days ahead to cross things from the To DO List, or at least until Wednesday when the middle of the week will hit us and we will realize we are behind schedule.
I thought I would just write this blog post like a good honest, old-fashioned journal entry. Where there is really no subject matter, and the sentences run-on. I fear that my entire week will be one long Monday. My husband is away for the week on business. I think my evenings will be long and lonely. I wish we had a dvd player so I could watch a movie, I wish there was a dvd rental shop close to the hotel so that I could rent a dvd. I wish we had a freezer so I could fill it with frozen dinners and ice cream to eat during my solitary evenings. For now I am content with a cold beer, bread, and guacamole sauce left over from when we made fajitas.
In my solitude, now that the boys are bathed, fed and in bed and their smiles are not here, and their voices are not laughing and their eyes are not sparkling, I am sad. I have learned that my Grandmother’s battle is being lost. That after two years of turmoil and combat, and struggle and disagreement, some things are just beyond her power, our power to change and the mighty C, majestic and strong, present in all of us, just not always active, is winning again. It is the first time I am loosing someone so close, and I don’t mean family, generation-wise. I mean someone with whom I get along with so well.
Some people are not close to their grandparents. There is sometimes too much of an age difference, too much of an old versus young gap, too many opposing views, too little connections, too much living-in-your-own-world-not-appreciating-the young-generation or even-trying-to-‘get-them’. My Grandmother is not like that. My Grandmother is hip. She has spunk, she is modern. She stays tuned in with the trends, she knows what is going on. She reads and watches and sees and lives and experiences. She goes to the movies and takes bus trips, she is innovative and smart, she calculates and has fun, she dreams and she does, she is and she will be.
Sometimes distance can bring detachment. In our case, it was never the case. When I lived four hours away, we always visited or they always visited. That was when I was very little. Then I moved to Japan and the bond didn’t break, and we were far. When I moved back to the four hour distance I was a teen. Schoolmates would whine and complain when they had to spend time with their grandparents, I couldn’t wait! I would put together things I wanted to share for when we were together, my scrapbook, magazine clippings, books, letters, essays I’d written and my report cards. I would buy gel and cut rags so that she could curl my hair ‘that old-fashioned way’. Waiting for them to arrive was excruciating. I would be so impatient, looking out for their car to turn the corner and come up our hill. And then when they did arrive, I would scream, they’re hereeeeee and run out to greet them, hug them before they got a chance to get out of the car.
When I lived in France for high school and then for design school, the relationship didn’t falter. I was always lucky that when I lived in both Japan and France, my parents nutured the relationship by sponsoring air fare so that I could spend week holidays with them in Claremont. We’d have the best time. I would go discount shopping with my Grandmama at Sclafani’s. We’d stop into the Corner Book store and buy Nancy Drew Mysteries. My Grandparents would buy me Oreo’s and Mac&Cheese. My grandmother would make the best sandwiches ever and we would go have picnics and feed the ducks.
I eventually moved to Tokyo for second time, and to Paris again too and our connection, our easy communication continued. The best times I had though, were when I lived only two hours away, during grad school. It was perfect because I could just call up and see if it would be alright to pop over for the weekend. At that time we each had a telephone plan, 99¢ a phone call. WOW, we would talk often and about random things for however long we wished, it was only under a dollar! We started a game where we would brag to each other. Sometimes I would call to say I had spent the afternoon at the library, or Grandmama would call me to brag that she ate a hot dog for lunch.
My Grandmother was a reading teacher. I went to grad school to get a teaching degree in Art Ed. We had so much to talk about. The students, the philosophies, classroom management and punishments, lesson plans, report cards and individual student comments, bulletin boards and creative learning methods. I would go up for weekends and take Grandmama to see chick flicks. She’d always whisper to me during the movie, I loved it. We went to Rhode Island together with my mother to visit the mansions. We wore party dresses and sun hats and really dressed up for the day. One December I took my grandmother up to the northern tip of Maine to spend a week with family. We took the Concord Coach and had such a great time on the bus. We shared peanut butter cheddar crackers and wondered if the bus driver noticed that we got off at each stop to pee.
Until very recently we continued to swap novels and magazines, recipes and decorating ideas. Grandmama shared stories of her first love and dating two guys at once, of working at the newspaper, and dating a fella only because his parents made jewelry and she could choose whatever she wanted. She would tell me how she fell in love with my grandfather, her brother’s best friend, that he was such a handsome guy. Grandmama would talk about her love for riding the train, her memories of Manchester when she got her degree there, of walking everyday in front of the Currier Museum, but never going in…
All these words don’t mean anything to most people. They are personal and I write them because it helps me accept what is happening. How a woman with so much spunk, so much goodness, so much faith, in her early eighties with still so much to do and see and share can be so wiped out, gyped and cheated, of this life. What frustrates me is when people say things like “yeah, but she is just your grandmother, you guys aren’t that close”, or, “well she is old, what did you expect?”
At 82 my grandmother is not old, and yes, we are close thank you very much. With the cancer, I feel cheated of the 15+ years she should have, that we should share grand-daugher and grandmother together. My fear for my grandmother is that she should depart with feelings of regret, remorse and bitterness. That she should feel that her life was not up to par, that she did not accomplish all her dreams, that she did not fulfill all her desires. That she would feel like her faith has lost faith in her. My grandmother has made such an impact on me, my life, my heart, that is so profound I see her and feel her in the pieces of moments that make up my day. She is in what I do, what I cook, the books I read, the places I go, the way I play with my children. With all the moves we’ve made and the places we have gone, she has been constant and dedicated. For sure there are a million other things we still have to do together, new books to read, new movies to see, new trips to take, but I can say with confidence and with out regret that I am thankful for that which we have been able to do together so far. I have no regrets of not having gone to see her more often when I lived four hours away, or only two hours away, or with the atlantic ocean to cross, or the atlantic and pacific oceans to cross. I have no regrets to taking her to the movies, or going on bus trips across states, or just going shopping together or hanging out with her friends for breakfast at Mcdonalds. I did not know her as a young girl, I did not know her as a newlywed wife, or as a mother. But I have known her as a grandmother, an amazing one, an inspirational one, a hip and spunky one and I so hope that she will not let her regrets overshadow all her accomplishments, all her successes and our very special connection.