It was a beautiful time, it really was.
Cody and I were both off work on Friday and had lunch out with a few friends and played catch-up on some errands. We watched movies and ate food.
On Saturday morning we went to farmer's market and then went to Oklahoma to see friends and family. The drive up really wasn't too bad. Yes, there were storms and yes, we got lost and bickered. But it was fine.
My grandparents are getting old.
Really, really old.
And their health is not good.
They've been old for as long as I've known them, but they've been consistently upbeat and happy and active. During last summer's visit they had just bought a new car and were in the process of repainting their house.
I don't know how to effectively convey to you how vibrant they were. Their home has always been a constant source of happiness, 1970s decor, and comfort. It is one of my favorite places to be. Ever.
And it still is. But....there's always a but.
And I think it's the fact that they weren't the constants I remembered. They aged. They were tired. My grandpa's weak heart, diabetes, and bleeding ulcer are really wearing him down. And taking care of him and seeing him this way is taking its toll on my grandmother. Even with their daughter and son-in-law right there in town--which is a huge help for them--and even with their granddaughter and her girls visiting, I could still see how diminished my grandmother was growing. She's been saying for 2 or 3 years now how it breaks her heart to see her husband weakened, but this time she was breaking my heart.
We know how this ends. There is only course this will take.
We all know that when E.A.'s pacemaker battery is replaced, he's going to feel better. It may help him to the point when he doesn't even need oxygen anymore. (The oxygen is a very recent development.) And when he's recovered from the pacemaker surgery, the doctors will scope his stomach to check on his ulcer and maybe they can change his treatment so that he's feeling better.
Objectively, we know these things and we hope for the best possible outcome.
But Mamaw's having none of it. She knows he's 86 and she's 84. She knows their son-in-law will be mowing their lawn from now on. She knows they'll never travel to another family reunion with her siblings again. She knows, and has known for a while, he won't be doing any more woodwork. She knows the garden will shrink until they can't have one anymore.
This knowledge weighs heavily on her and on Saturday it was very clear how hard it is for her to adjust.
She didn't even try to feed us.
We were in her home for 4 hours.
It was hard.
But: that was only part of the visit. It was the saddest possible aspect of the visit and shook me up more than I could have prepared for, but it was only a part of things.
It was the 4th of July, and we celebrated Mamaw's birthday. One of her great-granddaughters made a cake. We ate cake and cookies and ice cream at Carl and Shirley's. We met Mamaw's niece, and her son, who I recognized from pictures and who knew me. We saw our old church's old preacher, who recognized us from last summer (and recognizes me because I look like Mom). We visited. We laughed. We ate.
We talked about homeschooling. We talked about our families. Carl sang some of the songs Laine and I learned in church when we were little. Cody was impressed. We talked about Sara's wedding. Mom and Dad dropped by (they had been seeing other friends and family in the area and covered more houses than Cody and I did) and people saw wedding pictures. And Mozart.
Everyone was greatly impressed with Mozart. He's a nice dog, after all. A very large, very nice dog. I think Mamaw and E.A. would have let him in the house, but I don't think Mom or Dad would.
Things were just different. And that's not all bad. Mamaw talked a lot about her brothers and sisters, which she normally doesn't do. She has 9 of them. She's the oldest. I haven't normally heard much about them, so it was nice. I like watching people talk about their siblings. I think it shows a lot about them. I watched Mamaw laugh as she listened to her brother and his wife in Colorado sing the birthday song to her over the phone.
It finally occurred to me to ask how they wound up in Oklahoma when they were both from Mena, Arkansas. They moved up there after getting married (she was in tenth grade, I think) to look for work. They stayed with E.A.'s sister. He worked in a shop. She waited tables. Then his parents joined them. Then he left for the war. Then Shirley was born. Then Mamaw learned to crochet (this is important). Then he came back. Then Shirley and Mamaw went to college at the same time. Shirley was actually telling me about that this weekend. Then Mamaw got her master's in education. Then she was a teacher. Then E.A. retired and became a master carpenter. Then they befriended the nice couple down the street.
They're an extraordinary family and I'm glad they claim us.
Carl said we were kin.
On our way home, Cody and I saw fireworks in three different states. How many people can say that? Until the thunderstorms hit around 1 or 2 in the morning, the drive back was safe and not that bad at all. Cody and I took turns napping and reading and talking and picking out music.
On Sunday, we slept and recovered. I felt sick, so Cody went to the store. I did laundry. He made dinner. I cleaned the kitchen. He called his mom.
I'm working my first full week in quite some time. Things are normal and everything is fine.
Yesterday, we met my parents at a Barnes & Noble to swap out picture frames and trade things we'd been meaning to give each other. We drank coffee. We talked about Dallas. We talked about dogs. We talked about school and books. Dad would hold up books to see if I'd read them. When I'd invariably reply that I hadn't, Mom would exclaim "We had to read that just to graduate high school!" One of my favorite things about my mom is that she is almost never ironic. We saw one of Sara and Levi's friends. I bought a Sherlock Holmes book.
Sherlock Holmes stays the same. He's always, always, always right. And, like Mamaw, has been a hero of mine since I was 8 or 9. I only recognized 1 of the stories in the index. Good times await me. I've already read a story. Before I went to sleep, Cody asked me how the book was.
And tonight: we can pickles!
Or we plan to. I'll let you know.