I called my grandmother tonight on the phone just to see how her brother was doing. Of course I have other things I want to tell her and I also want to see how she is doing. I call her a few times a week now. I never used to do that. As my grandfather became ill, about 6 months ago, I began to call her once a week. As he worsened my calls increased. Now that she is a widow, I try to call 3 times a week.
The calls are short. I don’t want to be a burden to her. I know that so many people call her all day and, in being such a classic and lovely woman, she will put her best smile on even for a phone conversation. Recently I did call her because I needed her. I felt really hesitant to do that, especially because the call had to do with my own marriage troubles. I didn’t want her to hear about my marriage (even in its state of disrepair) and then consequently long for her marriage. But, I have to realize that she will do that anyway. And then something incredible and surprising happened, but also not so incredible and amazing, I suppose. I poured my junk out for her to see. I knew she would understand and she did. She empathized with me about how hard marriage is. And then she was able to tell me how hard it is for her that my grampa is gone. Then we both cried on the phone.
Back in December we threw this huge party at our house for a family member. It was too much for me. I can plan these things, but the execution makes me itchy. I played the perfect hostess and tried my best. The next day I called my grandmother and I told her that I don’t know how she did that for years with my grandfather. And for some strange reason it cracked her up. She just laughed and laughed on the other side of the phone. It was hearty, belly, tear-producing laughter. It was contagious and we both just laughed. I called to tell her about it because as I was in the midst of serving appetizers, I thought of my grandmother entertaining in the 1950’s. Her and I are so much alike. We are best suited in the work place and out of the home. I am a much better cook than her, but we are wild women. We need to be free range. We will do things that we have to do, but it will kill us. We will serve our nicest food to the biggest bull-shitters and roll our eyes fiercely as we stroll back to the kitchen for more.
I told her about my experience out of exhaustion, and we connected in this funny little way. And then she just couldn’t stop laughing about how ridiculous it was. I know exactly what she looked like on the other side of the phone. Her breath got wheezy. She laughed so hard.
This evening, during our phone call, I shared with her another thought that I knew she could relate to. Again she laughed and laughed. My mother and aunt were with her and they didn’t know what was going on. I laughed with her. I laughed because she was laughing, and because life is ridiculous, and because I knew that her laughter was genuine. I didn’t intend to make her laugh, I never do. But I am so glad I did. She told me that she will probably wake up in the night and remember and laugh some more. I believe her. I have seen and heard her do this. It’s like she stores little bits of funny jokes in her pocket for a late night snack that she can enjoy on her way to the bathroom to sustain her for the long night of darkness and loneliness.
In the moments after laughing where you sigh, and giggle remnants pop up, my heart felt full and glad and satisfied. You see, it is not just that my mother and I have a strained relationship, it is that out relationship is non-traditional. My mother is biologically my mother and she carried me in her womb and she has the cesarian scars to show for it. But she was not able to be the mother I needed when I needed it. We do not have a traditional relationship. I am her peer. She is my peer. She did not mother me. So our relationship exists because we have a similar family circle.
I have always wanted a traditional mother, though. Everyone does. When we don’t have one we have a huge hole in our souls. I am lacking in the parental unit department. It has been a long and lonely road. Yet my grandmother has been my constant. She has been my sun. I can safely orbit her and know where I am and where my home is. When we share these moments and they make me feel whole, I have these tastes of pure happiness and completion I have been looking for. It doesn’t make up for the times that I have felt like I have been hurled toward a black hole, or a concrete wall, but it helps. Those moments where we are so strongly attached over the phone, draw me out from the event horizon.
In my college anatomy and physiology course I remember the day we learned about gametes. Males produce sperm constantly. Their bodies are on a clock where they constantly make new, fresh, sperm. This is why Larry King has tons of babies and he is an old, wrinkly, man. Females produce a fixed number of eggs and these are always with us. We are born with these eggs. All of our ovum that we are ever gonna have are in our little baby bodies before we are born. This means that the egg that made me was once in my mother’s ovaries whilst she was in her mother’s womb. My grandmother once carried me in her own womb. That shit is profound. When I heard that in class I thought, well at least the woman I love the most carried me in her womb.
I feel so glad for my snippets of joy that I get to have with my gramma. I appreciate all of the memories and I cling to them. I am so happy that I get to go through the relationship evolution and maturation with her that most children go through with their parents.
Thank you, more please.
I hope and pray so desperately for all the motherless children out there to find someone that can bring them this feeling, too. I hope for you, I really do. I pray for you, I really do.