I’m visiting my grandmother at her new “apartment” in the seniors residence. It’s a 10 minute walk away from my house. I’m glad I can bring my girls to see her. Seeing them always seems to make her smile. I feel like I’m presenting the baby like an offering. Look, grandma, I brought you something – my daughter. It’s a little awkward, but I’m glad I can brighten up her day. I know she’s not happy to be here, that she wishes she were still in her home, but she needs the extra care and attention that she now has on call.
My dad is there visiting with us. He has just taken the three year old downstairs to the the dining room in search of a cookie. I sit on the couch across from my grandmother, holding my eight month old baby in my arms. My grandmother is lying in bed, propped up with pillows. She hasn’t had much to say this visit. She answers direct questions, “Yes.” or “No.”, and that’s about it. Still she seems happy we’re there. She beams at me from across the room. The baby is fussing around and tugging at my shirt. I start to nurse her. I hunt in my mind for things to say.
I know after her first child was born my grandmother was ill, and in the hospital for a long time, so my aunt would have to have been raised on formula. But what about her two younger children. Did she nurse them I wonder? So I ask her, “Grandma, did you nurse your babies?”
She looks sad for a moment and says “I don’t remember”. It’s the most she’s said to me all day. “I don’t remember.” I think it’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard.
My dad returns with his crumb covered granddaughter in tow. Hugs are exchanged. We bundle up and head home.
That night I sit in a dark room, rocking my baby, nursing her and holding her close while tears stream down my face. Could I ever forget this? Tiny body pressed close to me, sleepy, cuddly , warm. Could I forget this? Yawning, smiling little face, nursing, tugging at me. I don’t ever want to forget this. Sitting in the darkness, rocking in our chair, flute music playing softly on the radio. I don’t ever want to forget this.
I had this sitting here, mostly written and ready to go for over a month now. Then my grandmother passed away today and I felt that what I needed to do this afternoon was finish this up and post it.
I will miss you Grandma Rose.