July 11, 1980
Yesterday morning, I was able to go see my grandmother, meeting her at the same diner as usual. I had been away for her birthday, but I wanted to do something nice for her. I couldn’t really give her anything, because I didn’t want their to be any evidence of me, or specifically who I am. So I decided I would tell her anything she wanted, in honor of her birthday. The only exceptions being the date of her passing, or my birth.
“What happens to Carl?” The concern in her voice was so loving, and while I had always been aware that he loved her, it was nice to see it had been mutual.
“What do you mean?”
“Is he ok? Does he remarry after I die? Is he happy?” It was clear this had been weighing on her sometime, and for whatever reason she’d never asked me before.
“Well, I don’t know how bad his mourning was when you pass. By the time I’ll begin to form memories, it’ll have been half a decade. But, he does remarry, and as far as I’ve known him, he’s always been fairly happy.” I talk slow, letting the information absorb before giving her more.
“Is his wife nice? What’s her name?” She seemed relieved, but instantly curious.
“She’s very nice. She is basically a grandmother to me, and more so to your other grandkids because they’re all born after he remarries.”
“What’s her name?” she repeats.
“I can’t tell you too much about her, because you know her. But I will tell you before the end. Ok?” We had a similar agreement, that I would tell her the date of her death when she got close enough, so that she could make the most of it, but not too early so it was a burden.
She doesn’t respond for a minute, and finally she nods her head in agreement.
“But she fits into the family well?”
“I don’t know…” I take a deep breath. “She’s a good grandmother, and a good wife to Grandpa, and honestly, I think she’s a good step-mother.”
She looks at me wondering what my hesitation is.
“I think in her eyes, she can’t get out of your shadow. She has often seemed to me, to be aware of the fact that she’s not you. More-so than any of us kids. She does her best, and we’re lucky to have her, but I’m not sure she really understands that.”
“That’s awful.” It was amazing to watch the compassion for someone who is merely hypothetical to her. Then another moment passed. “Carl loves her? Like really loves her?”
“Yes. I don’t know what it was like the beginning, but it’s been awhile since they have been married, and it was evident every time I would see them.”
We sat for a few minutes, and I ate the bagel that had been sitting in front of me. I couldn’t read any particular emotion on her face, but I knew something was going on. Her eyes were absent. She was not sitting across from me, but had escaped inside her head.
“Good,” she finally said, announcing her return.
“How was your weekend in Florida?”
“Good, we spent a lot of time at the beach.” I have a pretty visible tan corroborating my story.
“Did you bring a picture of her?” She had asked me before I left to try to get a picture.
I pulled out of my pocket a Polaroid of Melanie, that I had taken Sunday morning before we left for the beach. It was overexposed, but she was still clear, her face and shoulders, just the top straps of her bikini making it into frame. I handed it to my grandmother.
“She is very pretty.” She smiled, and while I could tell she meant it, she still didn’t seem fully present.
“I’m sorry if this was too much for today.”
She shook her head and dismissed my apology with her hand.
“I have been wondering for a couple weeks. I’m glad I know.” There was a hollowness in her voice.
I decided to reach across the table, and hold her hand. She looked up and smiled, and I could tell the gesture had brought her closer back. She looked at the Polaroid, again.
“When will I get to meet her?”
“Um… Well, I’ll have to think of an explanation for you…”
“Don’t start a relationship off with lying.” She waved the idea away again. “If you tell her the truth, please bring her to meet me. If you don’t, just leave it alone.”
We chatted for a few more minutes, before I had to go to work. I hugged her and left.
Getting home from work last night, I stepped in a hole that had washed out from the rain, and sprained my right ankle. The doctor said that I need to rest probably a week before I’ll be able to drive again. Luckily, Whitney was going to be able to drive me to work everyday, and Al would pick me up after.
Unfortunately, it means that in my off hours, I’m a bit stranded in the house. I can walk around, they gave me a pair of crutches to avoid putting weight on it, but I can’t really go too far, and this morning really dragged from having little to do. At least I have my test prep books.