My grandmother lives in a senior apartment now. She is 90 and needs assistance. The nurse that bathes her and sweeps her linoleum floors is the mother of a boy that I went all the way through school with. I met her yesterday as I was visiting my grandmother. The boys were crawling all around gran's tiny space like flies. They ate all of her Ritz crackers and made piles of papers push across the floor. Gran just smiled and rocked the baby. She sings to Scout in a sing song way that is childlike and almost eerie but I love it.
The lady is nice and all I can think about is that her son is my age and I think I heard he has a brain tumor and it's all I can do not to see the kid's full face in my mind laughing like a hyena on the old playground at Union Furnace Elementary. The playground that is buried now under the new school they built years ago. The playground underground that must have dirt still somewhere there where my small feet pushed into the ground and jumped over hopscotch days and monkey bar terrors. I would swing so high back then like the way Finnian pumps his legs like lions now. I would try and see above the old Gymnasium, the black tar roof, over to the edge of pines that shouted up like skinny guards protecting us from the outside world.
And my grandmother rocks back and forth and she can't even bath herself anymore. She is at the mercy of someone else's kindness and diligence. She must lean her neck back and lift her arms to this woman who has her own life full of relics and despair. It's more than we ever expect. Blaise asked me why Gran's toilet is so high in the sky. He asks every time we visit and I just tell him that she needs help.
And he looks at me
and all of the sudden he is much older than a child
with a face full of pain
and tells me that it is sad
And I agree
and we gather our things and kiss her and hug the woman we really don't know
and whisper thank you and hear back what a sweet woman my gran is and we all smile
and then we drive into the future