OFF THE GRID
Mom died almost a month ago, but I can still hear her reaming my butt about never having a family, over the years, granted the lectures became more sporadic as time went by. The back and forth lessened, too, when that sore spot came up between us. Fortunately, Mom had plenty of friends whose own kids were procreating and would invite her to join them on their trips to zoos and playgrounds and birthday parties, and all the wonderful things grandparents do with grandchildren while their parents are off at work earning funds to afford them but are missing out on actually spending time with them.
When Mom wasn’t busy being the ‘Auntie’ or ‘Honorable Mention Grammie’ for the day, we would spend time together and she would copiously explain to me all of the wonderful things she and her unrelated grandbabies would do: The parks, and the sticky hands, and the zoos, and the dirty diapers, and the warm hugs, and the tantrums, and the beginning words, and the crying… I would attentively listen to her stories with visions of squelching the upsets and outbursts of spoiled partners at the monthly meetings of the law firm with which I am employed.
At a younger age, I used to think puppies and kittens and other fuzzy baby animals were cute, and figured I would eventually get one when I had the chance. Going with that train of thought, I tried to convince myself that a human baby would be equally as cute, but I was rather busy at the time and knew that I couldn’t leave my offspring in a kennel for the day while I went to work. There was daycare, and diapers, and food, and insurance, and potty-training, and up in the middle of the night, and tantrums and sticky hands, and broken things, and…. Maybe I was just never one to have kids? I was serious, I was in school, I was working, I bought nice things for myself and treated my belongings well; I suppose one could say I was selfish. Mom said I was selfish. Many times, she told me I was selfish. Many times, we fought. Not the knockdown and drag out fights, but more of the exasperated looks of giving up on getting the other party to be convinced of our own arguments. I would ultimately lean in for a hug and receive a half-assed squeeze and she would tell me she loves me and I would tell her I loved her, and we would call it a day. And after 72 hours of calming down, one of us would be on the phone with the other, setting up another lunch date as if nothing had occurred, previously. That was our cycle for about 23 years from the time I got out of law school to a year ago last December, right before Christmas when she went into the hospital before making the final move of her lifetime into Cedarvale’s Assisted Living Memory Center.