The first shift has left and the second is ensconced. The hosts are suffering a bit of familial whiplash as we move from my brother to his sister within the space of an hour or two. Who's in which bed with how many pillows? Who knows?
What we do know is that we are surrounded by love. Brother fixed some things and improved some others and kept us laughing. He is no longer amazed that we don't share his level of interest in carpentry and plumbing and HVAC maintenance. He knows we are grateful for his help and that we never fear that he is intruding upon our territory. He loves doing it and we love watching. Everybody is happy.
Thus, it should not have been a surprise to me that he drove a 10 gallon can of goo across America and wore the work clothes he'd packed while he applied the goo to the silver stuff in the closet that contains the machinery which keeps our house cool. Whatever it is and whatever he did, it now works in a more efficient manner.
We thank him for solving a problem of which we were unaware, but I'm a little bit aggravated that I have to remember to ask the HVAC guys to check it out in September. Why is that every repair invariably involves more chores?
G'ma was delighted to see him and was pleased to remake the acquaintance of Niece, the Youngest. This was somewhat upsetting to Niece, the Youngest, this most obvious of signs that her grandmother was less than she had been. I pointed out to her that she had been out of the country for 12 months and had not seen her grandmother for the 12 months before that and given those facts I'm not sure that her uncle or I would have recognized her had she walked past us on the street.
It didn't mean that we didn't love her. It meant that she had grown up and was no longer the girl we'd last seen. She was a college senior, fluent in languages and well-versed in theory, sorting out her future. G'ma remembers little girls with flowing untamed hair and a shy smile when she thinks of her granddaughters. She's happy to be pleasant to an adult who seems to like her, but the details of the lives her grand-children live are no longer accessible to her.
I have known this for a very long time. It's been a while since I've seen someone face it for the first time. The loss, the sorrow, the fear, the weirdness of it all; G'ma is old and Niece, the Younger is up close and personal to the indignities and the absurdities of it all. She is also seeing the grace and strength and courage it takes to get through a day you can neither plan for nor remember. That G'ma smiles through this amazes me and I tried to let that shine through. But there's no doubt that it was hard.
Of course, the fact that she's still sucking on her dentures just adds to the amusement.
For the most part, though, we four were peaceful and content, spending hours in the pool and on Douglas, telling stories and asking questions. The answers were long, and involved, and required back-stories which were happily inserted. It was the perfect family chatter. and it was lovely, simply lovely.
We drowned our sorrows over their departure in french fries and then there was his sister, Auntie Em, walking up to the little gate and it was smiles and kisses all over the place. There's our nephew and our brother-in-law and there are all kinds of configurations of hugs going on and the temperature is in triple digits and we don't really care because they are here and we are glad.
Inside, once again on Douglas, ice water in front of each one of us, we began to tell stories whose content required explication and whose provenance was disputed and exactitude was provided and, once again, it was the perfect, lovely, simply lovely family chatter that you don't realize you have missed until it's right next to you, on the couch, smiling at an old, familiar tale.
Being well-brought-up adults, neither party planned a visit of more than three days..... yes, guests, like fish begin to smell after...... but we wouldn't mind if they kept themselves on ice for a week or two more. There's still a lot to talk about.