Post Title: Upside-Down Flowers
Post Date: May 30, 2015
In which case, I sit with my grandma in her living room and we discuss Mother’s Day because that’s when my brother’s supposed to visit with his new daughter…. While my grandma talks and has cancer, the clock rings twelve and I can’t hear her because the tumor presses on her vocal cords.
“Should I tell your brother? About the cancer?” My Grandma is 89; I’m 37. We consult.
Finally: “He should know before he gets out here, I think.”
And I have a McDonald’s cup of coffee in hand because, anxious, I drove past my grandma’s house on the first run and found myself in a foreign parking lot, and so why not buy coffee?
My grandma points out a quilt that she’s displayed in her front room forever. “That’ll be yours. There’s a mistake in it, though.”
She proceeds to tell me how she’s made these errors in all her quilts, some that she’s painstakingly corrected with scissors, needles, and thread before her retinas finally gave out. She says she misses hand-quilting and I say that I get it. If you took writing away from me, I would be empty and how dare life grant you a passion and take it away so that you die with your hands tied behind your back.
She tells me, forgivingly, that she knows I see things different, but that God’s carrying her through this; I was the only one crying. With a fucking cup of McCoffee. Which is far less poetic than one set of footprints.
I tell her that in every Persian rug, the crafter makes exactly one purposeful mistake. That perfection belongs to God or something, and how arrogant to make something perfect.
We are excusing imperfection, and there was that time I took care of her garden when she broke her hip and I under-watered her plants.
I tell Jenn I don’t want to cry in front of Cayde yet. My grandma says she’s not panicked and that she’s 89 and has had a long life. I took off my glasses at some point and my grandma told me that all will be okay. There’s no one not dying in my family that would say the same. And can you imagine that?
I will inherit a quilt and stitched into it is a flower patch that is unerringly and certainly upside-down.
Post Title: On Telling Cayden
Post Date: June 15, 2015
“She will not get better,” I correct Jenn, and when talking to [our son] Cayden about my grandmother. I’m not being unkind. “Would you like to see her? Do you just want to remember her happy?”
Cayde places his head in my lap. He says ‘no’; he then says ‘yes.’ He can’t decide because he’s seven. We’ve just told him about tumors and cancer and these are things he already knows about—we’re not teaching him anything. We alert him to the metastasis, family being involved.
I haven’t seen cancer until just recently, and I’m relieved when Cayden says, “I just want to remember her happy.”
Cayde says, and before I get into the car, “I’m sorry, Daddy.” He also says: “I hope she recognizes you, Daddy,” because we talked about what happens in the end, and — true to everything, and what it means to die — the jaw goes slack and pupils pin. I see my Grandma’s gold bridges because her mouth is agape and she has strawberry stains on the creases of her mouth.
My grandma does recognize me, and we hold hands briefly. I kiss my grandma good-bye. There are strategies to move her onto the commode and it means navigating the three stairs into her recessed bedroom where the bed is something of percale and where perhaps she can be more comfortable. I leave before any indignity.
Outside that window, that one above the antiquated linen, I picked green garlic and it is where the pigeons shit and where I watered her plants. Always that one stain on the concrete because the birds used to sit on the eaves and in between houses, cooing.
She: “Can you water the front?”
She mouthed something when I left. She had thin hair. I could’ve pinned a blossom to her skin, it being paper.
I don’t know what she said.
I tell Cayde: “She recognized me.”
He again says “Sorry.” He hugs me and there is the weight of his head on my lap and I rest my hand on his skull, which I invented, and I very much believe him.
[Posts edited for length]
Title: Daddy, Medium Well | Author: Thom Hofman | From: San Diego | Blogging since: March 2013