Grandma, Hold me a little longer,
Rock me a little more,
Tell me another story
(You’ve only told me four)
Let me sleep on your shoulder,
I love your happy smile,
I’ll always love you grandma,
So stay with me a while…
I look at her, sitting quiet in her own little world with her eyes gazing into nothingness. I sometimes wonder what she must be thinking of. What has taken her mind wandering for so long this time? I wonder, if I could read her thoughts, would any of those scattered thoughts mean anything to me? Will there be a teensy bit of memory of me? I feel a heaviness in my chest at that thought.
Looking deep into her eyes warm brown eyes, I feel like I’m looking into a mirror. I have this childish grin on my face that can melt the toughest of people. I know this because I’m the sole reason for every impromptu smile that is flashed around me. I can start a chain reaction. I wish I had known that when I was younger. I would have been happy to have more laughter lines than wrinkles on around my eyes. But it seems like I have had a tough life that made a smile a one in a billion possibility. Sadly, it was rarer when it came to my immediate family. As if, the closer the people were to me the harder it became for me to appreciate them. I wish I didn’t take so long to realize the importance of those babies who grew up too fast for me to show them how much I really cared. It doesn’t mean I never loved them… it just means I never knew how to show love, well after all tough love is all I have seen in life.
I used to be a tall, lean, dusky, beautiful young girl from down south. Never really known comfort in life, never really known appreciation. The whole of our family is known for their quick tempers and sharp tongues, mainly the women. We don’t spare a chance to outwit one another. Fortunately, a few years into adolescence, I was taken away from my house to stay with my grandma. They were old, caring and really loved me. But it’s not the love that is expressed, it’s just understood. I was strong, not only physically but emotional. I would farm and take care of grandparents day in and day out.
Staying at my grandparent’s house meant being cut off from the few schools that were around my village. So I never went to a school, even as my parents made it a point to educate all my siblings. It’s a regret I have had till my last sane moment. I love going through books, looking at the colorful pictures, the pretty lettering….if only I could understand what it all meant..Eventually it was marriage, getting shipped off to Bombay and the kids.
My whole life felt like work. With limited friends and sympathetic shoulders to lean on to, I had pretty much only myself to take care of me. Not like no one ever tried but, I must admit, I’m a hard person to get remotely intimate with. It has always been difficult for me to express emotions. I’m a tough cookie to crack. I had built this air of unbreakable rigidity around me to get me through my solitary life. There was so much around that I couldn’t enjoy! But now I smile! Hush! I smile so much. It feels like such a burden has been lift off me.!
After years of denial my family has finally realized it’s their time to take care of me. I need them now. I want my grandson’s to come talk to me, make me laugh, tickle me till I shove them away with whatever little energy my life has left me with. I want my granddaughter to come hug and kiss me everytime she passes by, look deep into my eyes like she’s searching for something. A hint of memory maybe?
As I stare back at my reflection in her eyes, I realize there’s nothing there but the rapidly fading memory of my face gazing at her. I don’t have the heart to complain. She looks so peaceful now, how can you complain about that? With no memory of who I probably am she still warmly smiles at me whenever she notices me. When I hug her she closes her eyes as if she’s peaceful. When she suddenly lifts up her frail tired hands to touch my cheek, all it does is fill my heart with so much love.
How can I complain about it? She’s happier than she’s ever been. She doesn’t realize that she’s in pain. She smiles whenever happy, which more than ever when she was saner. She’s finally taken care of instead of having to take care of everybody all the time. Finally people worry about what she wants. Finally everybody’s world revolves around her! It’s everything she would have ever wanted, ever asked for.
Alas, if only she knew.