Tears Filled Her Eyes Seeing Her Son And Grandma’s Relationship.
Story by Kristi Powers (Author)
As I pull in the driveway, the little two-year-old in the backseat says “Mama, are we at G’ait Grandma’s house?” I smile. “Yes, Caleb, we are here.” I sit in the car for a moment as the memories come flooding through my heart and mind. How many times have I been right here in this driveway? When I was a child and we were getting ready to leave Grandma’s house, we would yell out the back of our blue station wagon, “Grandma, race us!” Grandma, no matter how old she was, would always race us. Dad would rev up the engine and Grandma would giggle as she started running down the grass along the gravel driveway. My mind’s eye can still see her giggling, as Dad would gun the engine at the very last second, leaving Grandma in the dust, but waving cheerfully at us from the end of the driveway. Grandma’s house had always been a place of comfort, love and laughter. Not just for me, but for all thirteen grandchildren.
I swallow hard. The lump in my throat is stuck there, I can not seem to swallow the pain or the tears fast enough. Through my tear-stained eyes, I see that the sunset is beautiful this July evening. The sky is full of a pink glow that slowly changes to purple, and then a fiery red that stretches across the horizon. It truly is one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. In my heart I hear my spirit whisper “a beautiful sunset for the end of a beautiful life.”
My mind is pulled back to reality as the chubby two-year-old calls out to me from the backseat. “Mama? G’ait Gamma? Go see?” Hand and hand, we walk up to the house, Caleb’s chubby fingers wrapped in mine. So full of life, so warm. As we enter the house, I breathe in deeply. It is amazing how a scent can bring back such powerful memories. I can still seem to smell the sweet scent of dove soap mixed with freshly baked cookies, cake or whatever Grandma would bake for us the day we were visiting. However today, it was not Grandma baking at the stove, but my Aunt preparing a small meal for Grandma.
The house is quiet. Too quiet. I smile meekly at my Aunt. “How is she today?” I ask slowly… painfully. We talk in quiet tones as she relays what my heart already sensed the moment I pulled in the driveway: My Grandma didn’t have much time left on this earth. The lung cancer was claiming my precious Grandma at the age of 89. I try not to cry. We are not criers, us Kelsey’s. Laughter is the one emotion allowed.
It is then that I notice that Caleb is no longer standing by my side. As I follow the sounds of his two-year-old gibberish I realize in horror that he is in Grandma’s room. I stop dead in my tracks as I see the scene before me. Caleb had pulled the chair right up next to Grandma’s bed and had his hand in hers. He was leaning over her with a smile on his face, saying “Hi G’ait Grandma! How you today?” I try to rush in to fix it, but when I see my Grandma gently stroking his baby fingers and smiling intently at him with her blue eyes, I wait. The smile that starts in my heart, slowly makes its way to my face as I watch my first born son converse and giggle with his Great Grandma. Caleb gently climbs on the bed next to her, all the while never releasing her hand. I stand at the door observing the talk between young and old, life and death. Grandma then turns her gaze to me. Her lips slowly part in a smile and she says just two words to me: “Enjoy him.”
The tears fill my eyes and slide down the side of my face where the salty drops seep into the corner of my mouth. I can not stop the tears. Was she letting me know how much she had enjoyed him over the last two years? Or was she telling me — admonishing me — with her last two words in this life: “ENJOY HIM.”
Twelve years later I believe I know the answer. It was both. Grandma enjoyed the time she had with the funny, always joyful and considerate Caleb. But she also wanted me to grasp something that we as Mom’s have a hard time remembering… that our job is to ENJOY THEM. Enjoy their infancy, the toddler stage, their grade school years, AND even when they are teenagers. Our children are precious gifts given from above for such a short time. They are not a possession to which we grip them so tightly that they cannot survive without us, but to help them know how to spread their wings and fly.
As the years have gone by I remember Grandma’s words a lot. I remembered them the moment my second son was born, and when my third and final son came bursting into this world. I thought of them when I watched them sleep so sweetly in their beds as young children. When my tall fourteen-year-old Caleb took to the stage this last spring, singing and acting, I again, choked back the tears, and remembered Grandma’s words.
Grandma only lived a few hours longer after Caleb left her bedside. Her words to me were the last conversation she had on this earth. I was there with my Aunts and Uncles when Grandma took her last breaths. I also had the great honor of being able to speak at Grandma’s funeral and share the collective memories that thirteen grandchildren had of their beloved Grandmother. Grandma gave me many treasured memories that I cherish to this day, but none have served me as well as her last words on this earth. Two precious words that were given with the last strength she had: “ENJOY HIM.”