Sunday, March 23, 2014

Great Grandma Lee wins the lottery!

"Great Grandma Lee has won the lottery!" 

She has spent a lifetime scratching tickets to find the matching cherries, the letters saying 'winner! winner!', the 777 - right in a row.  She used to watch game shows - Press Your Luck, Card Sharks, Password... - and dreamed of being a contestant.  

Great Grandma Lee would care for me, her great grandson, every afternoon after a rambunctious day at Ponderosa Elementary in Post Falls, Idaho. I would come running, abandoning post-school kissing tag, and make it to her doorstep, panting and panting, just so I would make it in time for the game shows.  While watching, I would jump up and down, up and down, yelling "No Whammies, No Whammies" and she would just laugh and laugh in her reclining puffy chair. And I would laugh right alongside her, especially when an animated Whammy would come and pour a ton of feathers all over a contestant lady with red hair, making her lose her prize money. 

My mom, Wendy, had to work long hours at the bank and was gracious for having such a loving grandmother to help watch her son. Everyone loved Lee, from the boy bagging her groceries to the Swanson man who would deliver her food.  The secret was her ability to be sweet, literally.  Great Grandma Lee would always carry fudge in her pocket.  If offered, I'd always pick off the nuts on top; "I love you" she would say as she handed over the fudge, alongside a peck of a kiss, and a wink of the eye.

"Great Grandma Lee has won the lottery!"  I imagined my grandma saying when she told me the disheartening news that my ninety-five year old great grandmother, Leona Griffith, had passed away over the weekend.  But I am happy to say that I think she has won the ultimate prize - peaceful rest.  She's in her big puffy chair, laughing at the contestant lady with tons of feathers, and giving out her fudge as she makes her way to the pearly gate.  With joy and tears in her eyes, she reconnects with loved ones saying, "I told you not to say goodbye - say 'Auf Wiedershehen' (German for 'until we meet again') - and look!  Here I am".   As her great grandson, I find myself as the biggest winner - having those treasured moments with my great grandma, with uneaten nuts in my pocket and No Whammies.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bubbles like Ice

Walkin' down that old sidewalk, Washington Street.  Ann Arbor.  Slippin' and slidin' on my way to the YMCA.  So cold that clouds connect to chimneys and the purples and reds in the sky seem painted behind panes of glass.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiittooo.  I blow some soap bubbles into the air and they fly...despite the coldest temperatures in a long while (-36 degrees f, too cold c) they raise and the pine needles tear the skin of the bubble like plastic.  Oh, and there was a bubble that survived and it floated into the nearby snow patch.  Frozen.  I picked it looked like a solid marble and melted when I touched it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Twitches in the Dark

Who knew there would be twitches in the dark?  Quick sudden movements, muscles contracting for a second, like lightning in the veins, sweet and scary.  A tremor in the finger, a tap of the wrist, a one-two shake of the left foot and a twitch.

I hold her firmly as we lie in bed.  Her twitching stops and the room is quiet as air - whispers won't wake her now. It's a safe place to be - the place of twitching - not a place of concern, or nerves before a graduation speech, but a deeper thing - a place of comfort, home, safety, an "I'm here - no need to worry" followed by an "I know.  Goodnight, babe."

I don't respond to her nighttime twitches with a shake or a shout louder than a drum.  All that is felt is warmth in the heart as her hair falls beneath my chin.  Her hair brings smells of home that fill me with joy and I'm reminded that in these moments I love everything about now - the quiet of the room turning into the tick-tock of the clock and a buzzing furnace - even that my lips feel chapped and my back isn't perfectly aligned.  I won't feel afraid, not once, when her twitching stops - just feelings of home, chapped lips and the cotton sheets I feel against my skin.

A jolt - no stammering, muscles slackened.  Shhh...she's sleeping and the moon is out.  I'm taken by the darkness of the room, not a shine in front or a spark in back, quiet and still and shhh...she's sleeping now.  Just a moment ago, we were whispering the day's events...a lost patient, the weather, "feeling sick?" "Nah.  You?"  Deep breaths...slower heart pulses...head to chest (she can hear the heart best).

The temperature feels right.  The bed is warm and our bodies are at rest.  A slight tremor in the finger...a tap of the wrist...a one-two shake of the left foot...and a twitch.