I'm remembering a phone call with my mom, a few months after Bubba, her mother, died. I'd been regaling G'ma with stories of her wonderful, beautiful, magnificently talented and brilliant grandson when I heard her sigh.
G'ma was not one for deep sighs. She wasn't the kind of mother who shared her sorrows with her children. She was there for us; it never occurred to her that we should be there for her. So, when I heard that aching exhale, I stopped chattering.
The silence was powerful.
In a moment, one I am sure was shorter than it felt at the time, she collected herself and, with a rueful laugh, explained that, while my stories were wonderful, they also opened a hole in her heart. "There is no one with whom I can share this," my mom told me. "It will sound like bragging to anyone else." Bragging.... the antithesis of her socialist upbringing... she couldn't make herself tell my aunt or a neighbor about her marvelous grandchildren... they would see it as a means of drawing attention to herself. The tales were fabulous, the kids delightful, and the stories had no place to go.
She missed her mother.
I'm channeling her pain right now. Little Cuter is filled with love and excitement as FlapJilly (Flapjack is no longer a gender appropriate sobriquet) dances up a storm inside her ever swelling belly. Her sideways photos, designed to show her expanding girth to a mother living too far away, are just about filling the frame. I have no one to laugh with about it. It's a small story, not worthy of mentioning to anyone except my mom.... and she's not here.
I'm trying, not very successfully, to avoid being that grandmother. Big Cuter saw the same peril when he reposted the first ultrasound picture on his Facebook page, apologizing for becoming that kind of uncle before announcing that, in fact, he did have the most adorable fetus-in-his-sister-on-the-planet.
A coyote just walked across my front yard. That's the kind of mini-moment I'd share with G'ma. We'd go round and round with coyote-Arizona-Tucson-desert, over and over, laughing at her failing memory, smiling at the wildlife in our surroundings, passing the time.
There's a yellow and black butterfly with a 6" wingspan fluttering over the lantana. G'ma would know just what kind of butterfly it is, and she'd enjoy sitting on a lounge chair, watching it carouse.
Those are the moments that tug at my heartstrings. Not the she won't be there for the baby's birth; she danced at the kids' wedding and that was as far as any of us chose to prognosticate. She lived a long, full life. She was neither a burden nor a problem as she meandered through her final months. I wished that her ever diminishing life would come to an uneventful close, and I got that wish.
I kissed her good night and she didn't wake up. At the time, I was happy that she was finally at peace, that the half-life masquerading as her existence was over.
I had no idea that I'd be sitting here today, wishing for a few more of those minimal days.