We spent Easter with my grandparents.
When I was a little girl we searched desperately for it in the Christmas tree. It was The Bird. But it didn't look like a bird. It was a silver ball ornament that when switched on sang like a cardinal. The child who found it first received the first Christmas present.
I almost always found it first.
The memories flooded me. All of us throwing our coats and boots off into a pile and running to the Christmas tree. Frantic. Excited. Our arms getting little scratches from the tree. The smells of a real pine tree. My Aunt Candy, who is no longer with us, laughing and playing Hot and Cold with us until someone found it. Then I would find it.
Sitting there with my grandmother, in my hand I held my childhood. And the tears began to flow. From both of us. As she sobbed into my arms, I promised her that my children would inherit this tradition. This excellent memory. That the search for the bird will live on and someday I would pass this piece of our life onto one of my children.
From winter to spring.
Our tears flowed easy. My grandmother's weakened lungs produced coughs and wheezing. We sat together on her bed and regained our composure. She was frail. She was remembering a time when she was younger.
So was I.
I remember sitting between my grandparents and celebrating. I remember. I remember it as though it was just last week. They were younger. They were strong. But today they are not as strong.
I watch my grandfather's hand shake because his brain has begun to misfire. Isee him forgetting and confused. I see him struggle to maintain his balance.
I hear my grandmother short of breath. She is so tired. I watch her eyes determined to soak in every memory available to her. I am overcome with the reality that life is moving forward. That the blessing of this life is that it is limited. That time will never stand still. That my children are the legacy. That life is so very precious.
We don't get to keep it. We get no do-overs. But we do get this time. We are given the gift of this time. This here. This now. This chapter of our life. This seemingly simple meal with great-grandparents.
He leaned in for a hug goodbye. My son, so small. Just three years-old. My grandfather, his great-grandfather, cradles one cheek in his hand. His other hand drew my baby's back to his chest. My grandfather's head rests gently cheek-to-cheek with my son. "Lord, bless and keep this child. This beautiful child", he whispered into my son's ear.
My boy looked up to listen to his great-grandfather. He looked right into his eyes and he smiled. My heart wept. I cried for love. The deep and enormous love of my grandfather. I cried for the knowledge that he is in the winter of his life. And I cried for the beauty of this moment between my beloved son and my beloved grandfather. My baby stepped back. "I wuv you, grampy", he whispered. "Oh child, I love you.", my grandfather said.
Plum piped up, "uv oo, ammpy" she said as she moved in for her hug.
It's a wonder I had my wits about me by this point as my grandfather with tears of love in his eyes for my babies, held her and whispered, "Lord, bless and keep this beautiful child". His hand shook. She was calm and stayed in his warm embrace.
I remember how that embrace enveloped me as a child. I remember how safe I felt. How loved. I kissed my grandpa. And while my heart sobbed, I smiled as I met his eyes. "I love you. I love you, grandpa." and he held me in those arms. I knew them. For a moment he didn't shake. He looked into my eyes and said, "Bless you, my girl. May the Lord bless you and keep you."
And for a moment I was 10 years old.