Yesterday was sweet, like honeyed iced tea on a summer day. M and I met my sister and two of her kids at my maternal grandparents’ house for lunch and nurturing and talk. The house hasn’t changed much since the day they moved in during the early 70’s. Down the street sits my childhood home which changed owners when my parents divorced in the 90’s. I rode my bike to my grandmother’s house more times than I can remember – the ride without my dad, in fact, was one of my first expressions of independence. We had Kentucky Fried Chicken. Salsa and fruit were made, cut, arranged, with the deepest attention, with love for us. Mama Nana, the term of affection we use, moves slower now since my mother died. She’s aged to her full 86 quickly in the past few years.
I also think, though, I never saw her age prior to these recent years. My mother was the buffer – Mom tended to dominate the scene when we met all together, wherever. My grandmother reads all the time, she thinks all the time. She always has something pithy and important to say and often brings something out from her readings to show us. She’s fiery – she gets in trouble with her sisters because she says what’s on her mind with no regard to tact. I always tease her on that point. She shrugs it off now – she used to get more indignant.
We sat outside in the warming spring sun with my sister, seven months old baby B sitting like a peach waiting to be eaten up with love kisses. T and M ran under the lemon and orange and grapefruit trees way in the back of the yard. Mama Nana talked to them and picked the fruit and showed the kids how to eat the orange “Mexican style”: a bite out of the rind, opening a hole so you can suck the juice and pulp out.
A, my sister, and I sat on the towels used like blankets and talked about her upcoming trip to Mexico on a cruise with her husband’s family. My brother-in-law’s parents treat their kids to a family trip each year. I’ll miss A during the week – we talk to each other constantly so I’ll definitely feel her absence. I’ll see Mama Nana more than normal, I’ll talk to her more. My sister lives closer to her and so she usually takes on the “checking in” of our grandmother. I’ll step in her shoes this week.
I took pictures. I always do, I’m always after the ideal portrait of my grandmother and her house.
The afternoon closed quickly, my having to leave to pick up A from school. I hugged my sister goodbye and we made sad faces at each other from our cars as we drove away. I always wave at my grandmother as she waves at me, standing next to my grandfather by the side door. M fell asleep on the way home. A large, luscious lemon rolled on the passenger seat, back and forth, shifting with the turns. The boys will love it – it’s a perfect lemon.