They were out in full force, today, the good daughters (and a few sons). G'ma's pod-castle is one of several on a piece of former scrub land which is now labeled a village. It's always seemed as if that were over-stating the case; there wasn't as much activity as the word village conjures up for me. But today, for some reason, the inter-connected parking lot and the walkways around the individual pod-castles were humming with activity. There was actually traffic in the round-about - a first in the 13 months I've been visiting G'ma there.
A woman my age was holding hands with an older woman as they made their way from a parked car to the front courtyard of G'ma's building. There was an equal measure of physical and emotional support in their grip... and the emotions were going both ways. I flashed to the same scene 50 years earlier, where the balance of power and cognition and responsibility was radically different, but the sense of responsibility toward one who needs care was exactly the same. Mom and daughter.... then and now.
The van owned by the village was disgorging passengers as others waited to load themselves, wheeling or rolling or shuffling up the ramp, on their way to the doctor or the hairdresser. "Look at everyone. Where are they all going?" I didn't know and didn't care because I was delighted with the fact that G'ma was paying attention to the world around her, and that her immediate little piece of that world was a-bustle. Sometimes I feel as if I am driving into the Village of Waiting Around for Something to Happen when I enter the parking lot. Today, it looked like my ship (or van, in this case) had actually come in.
The hand-holding couple were seated at G'ma's table for lunch. The daughter and I shook hands and shared names and a glance that was more meaningful than just "Hi, nice to meet you." Our mothers were living in the same small pod-castle, we were there to share lunch but not to bring them home to live with us, we were caring for our elders and it made us kind of sad..... it was all the answer to G'ma's "Who was that?" I'm terrible with names, but hers I will remember. We're in the same boat and it might feel good to share.
G'ma and I took off to Sauce for salad and pizza and the good children were there, too. We weren't the only older ladies lunching avec mamman. There were a few of us scattered around the restaurant, sipping our drinks and chatting about nothing or something and it didn't matter because the event was more important than the content of the conversation. G'ma noted the tall daughters and their even taller mothers and the over-weight families and we judged and chewed and sipped our passion fruit ice tea and I was happy.
A 20-something and her mom held the door for us as we left, I shlepping purse and left-over pizza and half-finished ice tea and trying to get G'ma and her walker safely over the slightly raised door-jamb (I never ignore door jambs and uneven surfaces .... not since G'ma fell while trying to enter my house on the night she moved to Tucson). They held it without expectation, continuing their conversation as we made our painfully slow way through the portal. It was perfect - we felt no pressure and I didn't need to grow a third or fourth arm. We four laughed as the door closed gently behind me, basking in the experience of dining with the women with whom we'd shared a womb... outside it or inside it, able bodied or leaning on a red rolling walker, grey haired or still sporting dark brown locks, we were women who were enjoying each other's company, and that was enough right then.
There are times when being a good daughter is as easy as pie.
Lemon meringue, please. It's G'ma's favorite.