today you have been known on this earth for 98 years. this Christmas will make 5 years since i last held your hands and told you it was okay to go see your family and your Maker. of course i’m already crying a little.
today i took care of my own baby and a sweet friend of ours. my morning started before 5am, and now i’m feeling the kind of tired where i don’t remember much about my day. i wonder, in your 93 years, how many days you felt this way. i think it might be easier to count how many days you didn’t feel this way. i understand now how you gave until you had nothing left.
i rested while they took a nap, and i felt guilty about it. there was (and still is) so much that needed to be done. laundry and dishes and the dried yogurt on our wood floors and toys scattered everywhere. i did the math and realized that i should probably close my eyes while they, too, were still and quiet. but i’m not sure i ever fully fell asleep. i understand now why it was hard for you to rest.
i have a 3-year-old now, and he would make you laugh so hard. we would probably butt heads in the ways you would try and spoil him, if you were here with us. but i like to think that you would see your own boys in him. he has their widow’s peak when his hair is short. (it’s hardly ever short now, and i wonder how mad you would be that it gets in his eyes.) the majority of my days are spent combing his sweet hair over to the side with my fingers. i understand now why all your boys had the same haircut.
i still wear your aprons for hours on end, and i’m still happiest when i can feed the people i love. sometimes i cook when i’m lonely and need something familiar. sometimes i cook when i’m overwhelmed and need the smell of garlic and onions and butter to remind me what i know is true. sometimes i cook because i want to be closer to someone. i understand now that you made poppyseed chicken because you wanted me to come around.
i have a son in Charlie and as close to a daughter as i possibly can in Scout. sometimes i’m gripped with a sense of panic that my boy will leave one day and not look back. where will i go when i’m not a mama every day? who will i be if he stops calling? i know those answers lie somewhere in the future, but i find myself wishing for that guarantee he will always want to be my friend. i understand now the unbreakable bond you had with my mama.
i am seeing more and more how i hold people to an almost impossible standard. being someone that sees a lot and usually brings a unique perspective, my filter is blurred and often taking a personal day. i react in anger and annoyance and say the wrong thing nearly all the time. what i want to say, i say, and then i beat myself up for hurting the ones i love more than life itself. i understand now that even when you were hardheaded and fussy, you had a deep ocean of love in your heart.
the world is hard often and beautiful always. it is full of good and terrible things, and the balance of that threatens to topple us all over at any given moment. the same reasons i want to stay in bed forever make me get out of bed each morning. it’s our job as truthtellers and Good News advocates to never let that fear win. i understand now that your strength came when you had to be strong.
every lesson i learn as i grow points me to the people that helped me get there. you, my tough old codger, my feisty, memorable lady, my unforgettable Grammy, will always remain one of my truest Norths. i understand it all a little more now.
happiest birthday, and i love you more.