Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Surprising source of wisdom

I have one remaining living grandparent, my mom's mom, Grandma Darlene. She's . . . a handful. (I'm trying to be diplomatic -- she's my Grandma after all.) She is equal parts exasperating, hilarious, cold and loving. It's hard to describe her because I'd need lots of blog entries just relating different stories. Sometimes she's generous, sometimes she's paranoid, sometimes she's practical, sometimes her common-sense meter is at zero. She drives my mom nuts. Megan and I have been instructed throughout our lives that we need to tell her if she starts acting like Grandma. While each of us rails against the thought of turning into her, we're sort of resigned to that fate. I suppose there are worse things.

Funny story about Grandma: She uses one of those walkers that has four wheels and hand-brakes that many seniors do. Somewhere along the line in the last five years Paul started calling her Wheels when referring to her. Soon everyone in the family was calling her Wheels. She loves her nickname and will actually sign cards from "Wheels".

So Zac knew about Grandma's nickname, but he hadn't met her until the time he came up for our wedding in January. The night before the wedding, at the groom's dinner, my cousin Sharon approached Zac to ask him about the new car we had purchased. She asked him, "So how do you like your new wheels?" Zac looked a little surprised and responded, "I don't know. I just met her." Megan was a witness to the coversation. She nearly peed her pants. She gleefully retold it a number of times that weekend.

So tonight Megan, Lincoln, Mom, Grandma and I went out to dinner. We sat around and chit chatted about this, that, and the other thing. Then I drove Grandma home, as she lives about 10 blocks from me. We talked a little in the car. I talked about not having very many days left here in MN. She patted my hand and said, "Yup, and then you're leaving." I pulled up to her apartment building and helped her out of the car. We talked a little more. She could tell I was getting a little choked up. She said, "Yeah, but traveling? You've got to do that. When you get to be my age, you get to look back and say 'I was there'. 'I did that'. And . . . that's everything."

I was kind of dumbfounded at that. She went on, "You've got to do it when you can do it. And you can do it now. So you need to go." I must have looked like I was going to cry because she finished, "Yes, it it hard. But it's going to be okay."

I stood there, a little stunned. I felt like she has just said the most profound thing I've ever heard. She hugged me, and kissed me and she walked into her building. And now I'm sitting here, just shaking my head, wondering where her insight and thought came from. Maybe she knew I needed to hear that. And in that moment I believed her. So I'm just going to keep replaying that in my head. "Yes, it is hard. But it's going to be okay."

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