I missed Grandma so much while I was sitting on that bench, remembering how Grandma was sitting next to me the last time I was there.
She kept calling me “Diana,” (I look a lot like my mom now; I’ll take that as a compliment). She wanted me to fetch her a banana from the toy co-op. I said, “Grandma, it’s not a real banana” – she said she didn’t care, she’d still like to have it. I said I couldn’t give it to her because this was part of the play museum. She shook her head, laughed with those dimples popping, and said, “well, I’ll be… what is this?!”
It’s a world where we pay to have things nice and tidy for our kids, things that smack of learning and education and fair play. It’s not the one where you ran free in Oakland with your cousin and some pennies and watched movies in theatres by your own small selves.
It’s also a world with anatomically correct dolls.
I had gotten a little flustered the last time I was there because Moxie had a blowout in her pullups, Grandma was mad because I was gone (cleaning up Moxie), and she also wanted to go to the bathroom, then I was worried about her in the bathroom alone. I checked on her. Okay. Then Mack had to go, and his was all about poop too. I hadn’t slept much the night before – Grandma needed to get up most of the night – I felt worn at the ends, frazzled, drained, and I didn’t mind it at all because I knew that each moment with Grandma – crazy or not – was a gift.
I am grateful that I felt that.
When I was sitting on the bench last week, I was glad that my memories aren’t laced with any recollections of feeling annoyed with Grandma, or impatient, or anything. I am glad I only remember how much love for her I felt on that day, on every day that I was around her.
My Grandma loved me best.
Oh, okay, maybe she actually didn’t (?), but she always made me feel like I was her favorite, that I was the best thing since sliced bread. There is so much comfort in that. I think more than anything, I want everyone to know what that feels like. To know that there is one person in your world, in your life, who thinks your shit doesn’t stink. Or if your shit does stink, there’s probably some marvelous reason for it stinking, because you are essentially just the most marvelous person, ever. No matter what.
Last week Moxie bolted out of the Discovery Museum, and of course it was a moment in which I wasn’t looking. This little gaggle of concerned mothers came to me as I was downloading something onto the iphone and said, “your daughter just ran out of the door” (which they had to repeat, like 5 times because I couldn’t hear them or read their lips well). I writhed in shame. Bad mom, horrible no-good, tech-obsessed mom.
Moxie was back in (on her own) by the time they were done being concerned with me, and I took her gently by the shoulders and said, “you just can’t run out, honey.” She said, “why?”, I said “because we are in here – you need to stay with me. We are playing inside here, now. ” She said, “ok” but I have no idea how much she actually understood. I asked her if she wanted to leave. She said, “no.” So then I said that if she didn’t want to leave, she needed to stay inside. If she wanted to go, just tell me; we’ll go. Okay? “Okay.”
But I put the phone completely down and away. Just in case.
I was proud of how she played and basically covered every living inch out of every single item there. Puppet show? Check
Kaleidescope? Check. Ball-over-blast-of-air? Check. Bike-powered stoplights? Check. Golf-ball-ramp? Check. She didn’t waste time. She literally played with EVERY SINGLE THING. I can’t say that about anyone else there.
Back to Grandma.
The death of someone loved isn’t just a loss; it’s an absence. It’s the not being there, the physical space that was once occupied by them, now empty. It’s my Grandma’s chair blanket that once made her butt warm, it’s her cat, Hester, that is still so sad, looking everywhere for Grandma’s bright smile and kind, petting hands.
I try not to think of her absence. It sounds really cheesy and all new-agey to say this, but I try and focus on the fact that I lost her in her physical form, but I’ve gained the best damn angel-protector-guardian anyone could ever have. Nobody’s going to watch over me like my Grandma!
Who loved me best, haha!
For those of you who like my kinda-controversial disability-related posts, I have a new one up on Two Thirds of the Planet – “Hey ‘Special Needs Parents’! Where’s the Outrage Over “Me Before You”?”
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.