Rosh HaShana comes early this year. I took the cards over to the pod castle for G'ma to inscribe. We go through the motions, my mother and I, even as they remind us of what is lost. We do it because we've always done it and because it needs to be done and because others expect it and because it used to be fun.
Used to be. Like almost everything involving my mother, used to be rears its ugly head. It taunts me with what was, as G'ma's formerly perfect printing wavered on the page. It took her some time to adjust the pressure of nib to paper. Her initial attempts were faint, the repairs just made things worse. My heart aches for her grandchildren, who have been watching her decline through these obligatory notes and cards, watching her signature wobble where once it was definitive, like the swirl and the dot below it.
Some of the cards had the decoration. For some of them, she was too tired to write Dear, let alone a name following the salutation, even though I suggested that she try. When she doesn't want to do something, G'ma puts a certain look on her face and .... right now there are grandchildren all over America who are laughing as they are quaking in their boots... it's the face that got her through the hardest times as the middle-school-administrator-in-charge-of-discipline... the face that brooks no argument. That was the face for most of the cards. True to form, I didn't argue.
She used to like to put the labels and the stamps on the envelopes. Today, she shrugged her shoulders and shuffled her dentures and I decided not to bother. If I'd had the supplies at hand, I'd have made it an arts and crafts project. But my body didn't want to walk down the hallway to collect them, and I knew G'ma wouldn't remember doing it or not doing it or anything about it at all so I sat with her in the sunshine and reminded her that Niece, the Youngest is in Jackson Heights and Cousin, the Youngest is a gifted and talented young man, and that I loved her.
That's the only thing that is the same.