Hidden somewhere in the sheets and pillowcases we purchased at my grandmother’s sale, a note from her:
Kind friend – before you wash these pillow cases, please soak them in cold water to which you have added 2 or 3 tablespoons of table salt for a few hours or the color will all run together. You will be glad you did. Thank you.
* * * * *
On Labor Day our extended family got together, and grandma was there. She can barely walk anymore, although she did manage to get up out of her wheeled chair/walker and take a few unsteady steps toward the dessert table. Everyone protested (the stroke has limited her ability to swallow), but later I heard that one of my aunts helped her break up a rice crispy treat into tiny pieces.
My dad wheeled her over next to me and we chatted for a bit. And by chatted, I mean that I shouted, and she whispered. Her voice misfires, doesn’t have much behind it anymore, like a car running a few cylinders short.
“So, are you enjoying your new dryer?” she whispered.
“We actually bought your washer,” I said, leaning so close to her that I could see all 91 years in her skin, like the rings in a tree. “My sister bought your dryer.”
“Oh,” she said, nodding and nodding and nodding, until I thought she forgot what we were talking about, but then she looked at me and smiled. “How much did you pay for it?”
“For the washer?”
She nodded again.
“$10. Can you believe that?”
Her eyes popped open.
“$10! You owe me some money!”
* * * * *
It was a rainy day. Eventually we ended up in the gym, playing volleyball. Those who weren’t playing sat around the edges talking, telling stories, and making fun of those who were playing. At one point in between games I scanned the crowd and saw grandma.
She had fallen asleep in her chair, her head bent far to the side. She had a small blanket on her lap. Around her, her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren played and laughed and experienced life together.
I hope hers was a peaceful sleep.
* * * * *