On Mother’s Day, we piled into the car and spent the morning taking a ride.
The land about ten or fifteen minutes outside of our suburb is all rolling hills and horse country, a part of the area that I’d not seen since we moved. It was a perfect morning, crisp and clear, so off we went, ending our meander at a flower and crafts shop so that Lara could spend the morning finding plants and plates and such.
Jack likes taking rides and staring out the window. Usually, he’ll pepper us with either questions — “Whuzz zat?” — when he doesn’t know what something is or identifications — “Taxi!” — when he does.
This ride was all about more. Specifically, what he wanted to see more of.
By the time we got to the flower store, I was ready for more myself. More vodka. More aspirin. More earplugs.
The store was more of the same. He wanted to see and touch the birdhouses. To smell the flowers. To touch the dog pillows. (This store had everything.)
On the one hand, it was hard to not appreciate that the boy was living an axiom right in front of me, literally stopping to smell the roses. And carnations. And tulips. And every flower that was one display, an entire forty acres worth.
On the other, it was also hard to not take a moment to explain concepts to him, about patience and consideration and how the day wasn’t about what he wanted to do right that very second. Explanations that were acknowledged with a, “Yeah,” then ignored five seconds later when he saw a small statue on the floor that he insisted sitting next to for reasons unknown.
Leaving the store was tearful.
That night, we found out that Lara’s grandmother had died.
Half an hour earlier, we had been talking logistics for Sylvia’s 102nd birthday party, which would have been next week. When I met Lara, her Gramommie was in her nineties and still driving a car, which to my mind was nothing short of a minor miracle.
I pretty much grew up without grandparents in my life, so I’d always appreciated Gramommie. The sparkle in her eyes when she was with her family. Her quick wit, which she held on to with a fierce pride. Over the past couple of years, her answer to the question, “How are you Gramommie?” was usually answered with, “They shoot horses, you know.”
When I was getting to know Lara’s family, Grammomie liked to tell stories of her younger days, when she would have her friends over to her house and they would roll up the carpet in the living room and dance. Or her nights at the Aragon Ballroom, when it was still a ballroom instead of a slouching husk that had been cleared out for concerts and doused with a million spilt beers.
Leading up to the wedding, I would prod Gramommie. “You better save a dance for me. The Lambada, if you have it in you.” The family thought I was having a bit of fun with her. I think she did, too.
Her passing was as ideal as one could have it. She’d spent the day with some of her children and grandchildren. They ate lunch and laughed. As she was getting readied for bed, she took a final, peaceful breath and she was gone.
Almost one hundred and two and I wonder if there was anything that she wished she had done or seen, one last time. One more dance. One more laugh. One more story to hear. One more joke to make with one more tiny little smirk and one more slightly raised eyebrow. One more bit of time with her family.
I still want to teach Jack some patience, more for my benefit than his, so I don’t have the embarrassment of hauling a squirming two-year old out of a public place again anytime soon.
But I don’t want to teach him too much. I want him to be impatient in all the right ways, to go for the things he wants. Because even 102 years aren’t that many, and they go faster than you might think, so you may as well live them on your terms.
I’m sure Gramommie would agree.