I had a million things to do today. Truthfully, I almost canceled. It was easy to cancel on Grandma Genny because she was so understanding. Never made you feel guilty. Always welcomed you back with open arms, no matter how many things you missed.
Grandma Genny isn’t my real grandma, not by blood anyway. She is my stepdad’s mom. In the lottery of step-grandparents, I struck gold on both sides.
Grandma Genny is not my biological grandma, but she’s the most grandma-ey grandma I have—if that makes sense. She has a house that smells like gravy on the holidays. A grandma who tells you you’re beautiful when you’ve just had a baby and look terrible. She has the cursive writing of a grandma. One who makes cheesy potatoes. A grandma with opaque nail polish and antique decor. Witty, silly banter with grandpa. Grandma-ish perfume.
I met Grandma Genny when I was nine. Awkwardly shuffling in, feeling out of place, wanting so badly to be good and fit in. After my parents’ divorce, I carried a deep sense of insecurity, and I wanted to be liked. It was Easter. The charming house my stepdad grew up in was bustling with the kind of energy that comes from a large family. Ham on the counter, siblings giving each other a hard time, loud voices—very unlike the small family I was used to.
I liked everyone right away. They had little barking dogs and a creek in the back. Grandma Genny talked to me in a loving way even though she didn’t know me. She made me feel welcome. She made me feel safe. That sunny Easter day, she imprinted on my heart in a manner that never goes away.
Tonight, I had plans to see Grandma Genny, but there was lacrosse practice, I wanted to visit my horse, a never-ending pile of laundry sat in the basket, I didn’t have time to do my hair, it was hot and I knew she wanted to sit outside, the restaurant was on the other side of town, my daughter wanted me to put her to bed instead of dad.
There were a million reasons to cancel. There were plenty of excuses as to why I couldn’t go, but I felt like tonight, maybe Grandma Genny needed me.
Grandma had lost a son the previous winter. She put on a brave face at the funeral. She saw my daughter admiring his horse pictures. She bent down to her level and talked to her in a loving way about horses. She told her, “Uncle Bobby would have loved your cowboy boots.”
After Bob died, I think Grandma was feeling lost. Maybe she had a deep sense of insecurity.
I drove to the restaurant. I felt happy when I walked in. I saw a relieved smile on my stepdad’s face, knowing a younger person brings fresh energy, and the night might be fun. I saw my mom relax, knowing I could brighten the vibe at the table because they don’t see me a lot. Grandma Genny looked pretty. She was so happy to see me.
I ordered a mojito. Grandma Genny had one too. She laughed. She told stories. I talked to her in a loving way about her life. I listened. I laughed. I was present, never once thinking about the laundry pile or my undone hair. The night went by too fast. I felt comfortable. I felt loved. This is family. This is everything.
I drove home misty-eyed at the kindness of my grandma. How lucky I am to have her everlasting love and support. How nostalgic I feel that I should have done more with her in my busy season of life. How thankful I can be that she’s still here. They were tears of gratitude that tonight, I didn’t let the little things in life like chores and obligations get in the way of the big things in life.
Like a summer night . . . having mojitos with Grandma.