There have been many happenings since my last post. On Friday, I took the day off. More about that later. After my appt Friday morning, I laid in the hammock with Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” – I’m intent on discovering mine and Bobby’s language and improving our marital communication skills. B and I went to lunch in historic downtown Anderson at a little deli – ate outside and watched the world go by. It was lovely – a beautiful day, lunch with my hubby, and a glorious spinach wrap containing feta cheese, kalamata olives, cucumbers, and all sorts of yummy stuff. Back at home, I sat and chilled on the couch, watched mindless afternoon boob tube, and caught up on my S-D email. Then packed for Virginia.
I was a nervous wreck about this trip. It’s our second trip to visit Mama’s family since she died… the first trip was in December, and I hadn’t called or spoken to any of them since except Grandma the week before. Nervous and filled with dread – not knowing what the reception would be, and specifically, if we would see Uncle Rocky and if so, how he would act.
We left late (of course) and didn’t arrive until midnight. I didn’t take my Rozerem because it was so late, and slept very fitfully – fragmented dreams punctuated by Bobby’s incessant snoring, and when Jennifer came in to wake me up Sat morning, I was in the midst of a dream about Uncle Rocky – that he had come down to Grandpa and Grandma’s house, and acted normal – like it was before it all fell apart.
I got up, and Grandma fixed one of her gigantic signature breakfasts and we settled in for a long day of doing nothing. That’s what we do in Virginia – absolutely nothing. I used to love it… the hours crawl by and one day feels like three. But since Mama, our bridge/translator/protector isn’t here, I’m not sure I like the quiet and the fact that the clock is barely moving. But as I relax, I realize that it’s truly ok. The tension between Grandma and me has passed, and now there’s only concern for our well-being, and happiness that we’re here. And oh, how they love that Maggie. Grandma couldn’t get enough of her – Maggie is her only great-granddaughter, and she feels her absence, I think. And Grandpa – he has aged to a shocking extent since Dec. He’s obviously always been “older” – but now he just looks “old.” He looks defeated, tired, drained. His eyes are weary, his hair is grayer. He’s sad. But Maggie makes him light up like nothing else.. he takes her into the living room, away from the rest of us, and rocks her and just watches her. I think that he sees his own little Denise when he holds Maggie Denise – so many of the mannerisms are the same, and she has Mama’s name.
On Sat night, Jennifer and I talked to Grandma for hours after everyone had gone to bed. Grandma talked about the events of Mama’s death – she seemed unable to think about anything pertaining to Mama except the horrible last week of her life. I didn’t realize how much of that week that I had forgotten until I heard her describing it – describing what I have tried to hard to forget, and describing much that I didn’t even know. I felt the familiar gag come up in the back of my throat – wondered if I got up and went to the bathroom to vomit, if she would stop. But I knew that she needed to talk… she has no one to talk to about those memories, no one to help her relive her daughter’s death. So I listened as well as I could, without internalizing it. It was therapeutic, sharing those memories with Grandma without any of the anger and blame that immediately followed the events.
Then Sunday morning, we got up and Uncle Rocky was there, sitting at the table. I walked in and hugged him – a real hug, with two arms. So did Jennifer and Sue. We had breakfast, and he held Maggie for the first time since the day she was born – got up and showed her the train. He was different… quiet and his face sagged as if he hadn’t smiled in a long time. He was pleasant, but not like the jovial, laughing Uncle Rocky of my childhood or the brewing, volatile Uncle Rocky of the last year or so. He was just there – quiet, tired, like all the fight had been beaten out of him. He doesn’t play the guitar anymore – only on Sundays for church… only the people who know him know what a statement this is. My earliest memories of my uncle are of him sitting with a guitar – he’s been playing since his early teens, and used to drive Mama crazy when they were young as he would play the same song over and over and over. Now he rides his bike instead.
When we left after breakfast, we all held hands and Grandpa prayed. He thanked God for bringing us together again, and he choked up. It was the first time I’ve ever witnessed my grandfather crying. When I opened my eyes, Uncle Rocky and Bobby had their arms clamped around each others shoulders… Uncle Rocky’s hands were clenched, and he had tears in his eyes. We all did. When I hugged Uncle Rocky goodbye, he told me that he loved me. And as we drove away, we looked back to the porch, where everyone stands to send us off for as long as we can remember, and Uncle Rocky was the only one standing there, still waving.
I felt such a weight lift off, like I was so light I could float away. So happy that it’s over, truly over, and we once again have our family. I didn’t realize how heavily that had been weighing on me, on all of us. And it only took 7 months… “only” 7 months.
And Aunt Jeanie gave Mag a precious sunbonnet… as Jennifer was opening the gift, Aunt Jeanie whispered to me that it was what Mama would have bought for her grandbaby, and so she couldn’t help but buy it. Our Aunt Jeanie is truly one of the sweetest ladies I have ever known.