The Heart Will Remember

We would usually find Granmommy at her kitchen table when we'd stop in for a visit. August would ask for Nilla Wafers and eat one after another until she fell into a slight stupor on the big comfy chair or her couch. She'd enjoy watching August go through her kitchen cabinets and take out the same colorful Tupperware pieces to play with. There was always a pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge, candy in the candy dish and something stamped and ready to be mailed sitting on the table. I'd sit next to her at the kitchen table and the conversation would quickly go to old recipes, sewing, stories of motherhood and her children when they were little or how she loved dolls so much but never really had any growing up. I always wanted to keep on talking.

Her name was Evelyn. She had eyes that were big and round, her face well worn in such a beautiful way and I thought she looked pretty in blue. In many ways she reminded me of my great-aunt Christina and maybe because of that I felt so comfortable around her. She always sent birthday and holiday cards to family, made the birthday cakes, took whatever she had in her wallet and discreetly placed it in the hand of her child or grandchild in need of a small miracle. Filling her shelves and accent table were photographs of her children and grandchildren. Evelyn loved.

The last conversation we had was last week and she mentioned there was a  Halloween card in the mail for August. She said she ordered her some books for Christmas too. I was hoping there would be a few more years of Nilla Wafers for August, more time spent on her couch watching a Dean Martin special or Shirley Temple film, more stories at her kitchen table. I only knew her three years. When she signed the card on a Christmas gift to me : To Tera, Love Granmommy, I felt fortunate and saved it.

I hope August remembers something of Granmommy. I have memories that were created when I was even younger than she is. I hope she feels something warm and tender, I hope her little heart remembers.


Caterpillar, caterpillar...

Today, August came running inside shouting the alarm of "Mommy come, come!" She wanted me to come see a caterpillar on the ground.  She knows not to touch them and I was so happy she understood that lecture I gave her about not touching bugs and asking Mommy to first come look at bugs before touching them. We had been walking along when she suddenly jerked her hand from the wooden railing, there, along it's merry way, was a Puss Caterpillar. It was so odd to catch sight of this creature because I only became familiar with it a few days before and thought it was only found in Florida. One thing I knew, it was highly toxic. However, once it becomes a moth, as most toxic caterpillars do, it is no longer a danger.

We stepped away from it and since it was in a location that August frequented and I never wanted to see that caterpillar again, I killed it with a rock. I felt terrible. I just kept this poor Puss Caterpillar from achieving it's lifetime goal because our paths just didn't cross well. It was a sad moment but also a very scary one for me. This tiny creature managed to make my heart skip a beat and my stomach tighten up.

I wondered if children instinctively knew what to touch or not touch. I wondered what I would had done had I not read that article that came my way (via Facebook, of all places). Would I have stopped and just looked or actually try to touch and handle it? Had I not been there would August have become curious and brave and tried to touch it? It was a pale brown, velvety, almost cute looking thing but at the same time, something about it did register as creepy. The incident was too scary to continue to dwell on. I began my lecture to both of us about the dangers of touching bugs we know nothing about it. I then went home and studied up on toxic plants and insects.

The caterpillar August found on the ground today was dead, the ants were moving it. It was actually a caterpillar that would have become a butterfly and I mourned it. We had just spent time among the Monarchs yesterday at the park. It was a magical experience and I did feel quite blessed by it.  I had not been among so many butterflies since I was a little girl in Del Rio. They really made me feel like everything I wanted to work out, would.

Who doesn't want to become a butterfly? All the suffering and sacrifices, the tough lessons... We all want the ugly to lead to something more beautiful than we could have ever imagined. Reward and respite. Freedom. To fly and not crawl anymore.  Hopefully all hard work will result in a pleasant and comfortable payoff and not get squished along the way, never becoming a butterfly or a moth. When I think of it that way, it's really tragic to see dead caterpillars.

I'm no timekeeper.

Recently I was served a hard pill to swallow. I am no longer punctual. If invited to a dinner party, have a job interview or a doctor's appointment, I try my best to get started as early as possible. I have even succeeded in arriving early. However, if I am invited to a friend's house and given a window of time say 10am-10:45am, more than likely I will arrive squarely between 10am-10:45am and appreciate a having a nice open window of time. This is why:

1. I live with a person who has no concept of time and works at her own speed. August wakes up at 10am. She use to wake up at 11am. Sure, I can put her to bed early, wake her up at 8am or 9:30am and claim she had a full 10 hours sleep or more, but she will still be a cranky toddler. Cranky toddlers make getting ready to leave the house, more difficult. They won't eat breakfast, they follow you around crying and unhappy because their schedule is completely off. However, if August wakes up at 10am, she'll happily eat a breakfast, dress and we can be out the door in ten minutes. Nap time poses a similar problem. Skipping nap time or cutting it short creates a situation that is harder to work with.

2. In my culture, you always arrive a bit later than the designated time because it is polite to allow the host or hostess time to prepare. Things happen, believe me, you appreciate that grace period when hosting.

3. I am not a person who enjoys hurrying anymore. To hurry means to rush things and I am at a point in my life where I do not like to rush things. I like to take things easy. Little hands don't move fast and it's important to let those little hands do all they feel they can do. I anticipate this as much as I can. A noon appointment means I have prepared as much as I can the night before, this way, in the morning, we don't have to rush off.

When I can set an appointment or meeting time, I usually set it for noon. If we take a day trip, we won't be getting out of the house before noon, it will be noon, if all goes well. I explain to friends that we'll be arriving to play dates as soon as we can and I am always relieved when play dates don't start until 10:30am or so.

Eventually, soon enough, August will be on a strict schedule for school and activities. Gone will be the days of our own, loose schedule. Therefore, when I do have to make a date, rest assured it is with someone I trust to be understanding and flexible, a friend, someone who won't get all out of sorts if I arrive a few minutes past the designated time, someone who will add "ish" to the agreed time. I appreciate my group of true friends who empathize because they have children themselves, had children or just prefer to not sweat the small stuff and are open hearted to just seeing me when they see me.

This is a actually a big change for me. I was always out the door and where I was supposed to be on time. It took awhile to adjust, it felt impolite but some things just can't be helped. I let people know if I am running behind. I no longer expect anyone to be on time. I can always fill time and don't mind a wait. In fact, I can say that pretty cool things have happened while waiting.