Lost and Found

on 23 September 2013

So my Grandma is fading.  She's nearly 97 and so it's not entirely unexpected, but it's still sad.  She's always been this undeniable force of life, so to see her so faded is hard.  I've been trying to go down as often as I can to help her and my parents and to spend time with her.  Since, in the end, time is all we really have.

I was down last Saturday, and she sleeps quite a lot now, so I sat with her and held her hand and chatted with a friend of hers from church.  We talked about family, about life and death and about my Grandma.  She woke up just as her friend was leaving and I helped her eat some lunch and tried to make her laugh.  Grandma is a tough audience, so making her laugh is ALWAYS my main objective.  I know if I can make her laugh, then I'm doing pretty well.

When Chris and I finally left, I was feeling tired and sad.  I think we're all feeling tired and sad.  But the babies were at home and I had been away from them all day.  So we made a quick stop to pick up a carbonated beverage, and while I was in the little convenience store, I picked up an ice cream bar.  Not an ice cream sandwich, not a drumstick, but my favorite old fashioned ice cream bar.  Well, not my favorite.  My favorite are Brown Cows which are not sold this far east, but it was another brand equivalent of vanilla ice cream on a stick and dipped in chocolate.  I got back in the car and Chris said, "Oh, babe.  Is it that bad?"  And I said, "Yes and No."

See, I had watched this Documentary last week.  It's all about the British love affair with boiled sweets, or what we Americans would call hard candy.  And the presenter, whom I didn't recognize, but who is apparently a famous food writer, was talking about the power of sweets to take us back in time, to enable us to relive our childhoods.  In the course of the documentary, he sat down with Nigella Lawson and she made the most appropriate comparison.  She said that boiled sweets are for the British, what the madeleine was for Proust.  And after getting back in the car, I realized that for me, more than candy, more than cookies or cakes, it's ice cream on a stick.

That lovely crackle of the hard chocolate as you bite into the vanilla ice cream, it takes you back to a time when you were small, and the world was big, but you were surrounded with strong, confident people who would always protect you.  Back to a time when fathers were super-heroes, mothers knew just how to fix what ailed you, big sisters lived at home, and no one frowned on running around dirt roads absolutely bare footed.  A time when Grandmothers were strong and sharp, like crunchy lemon drops, and Grandfathers were indulgent (my papaw's treats of choice were old fashioned peppermints and those horrible circus peanuts, but it was from my papaw that I obtained that miraculous quarter that would buy me a Brown Cow down at the Piggly-Wiggly).

I ate my ice cream and had my moment with the past.  And then Chris held my hand as we jumped off the cliff and back into reality.  After all, it's a big world and my babies need their father who is a super-hero and their mother who always knows how to fix what ails them.  And so no matter how tired and sad we are, we keep going.  It's how we teach the Boy to be a super-hero when he grows up, and the Girl to know how to fix what's wrong. 

Yes and No.  It's sad and hard.  But life goes on, and the babies still need dinner and baths and blankets and books and kisses and a touchstone that is safe and happy, so that some day when they are grown and life is sad and hard, they can bite into something and come right back here.


H said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother's decline:( The realities of aging and mortality sting, but thankfully families are forever.

I'm sorry for your pain, my heart hurts for you. You are loved, Frodo. You and your family are in my heart, thoughts and prayers.