Friday, July 12, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

This blog post comes really as a response to one of my online friends who wrote this about her dad recently.  It immediately brought back a very powerful memory for me that I didn't think was appropriate for her comment section.  Given that this past week was the 12th anniversary of my mom's passing, I felt even more compelled to share. So here we go!

My mom passed away when my son, Cubby, had just turned 3 months old.  She'd gone into the hospital when he was only 3 weeks old, so I don't even have a picture of them together, except in my mind.  My mom only saw him twice. Add to this fun that I had an emergency c-section I was recovering from, and I exclusively nursed my son, so I was eternally sleep deprived while going to the baby sitter to drop him off, going to the hospital to visit, going to my mom's house to box up her things so she could live with us, trying to find a place big enough for our family plus Mom.  Then when things went south with my mom's health, contacting doctors who wouldn't tell me anything, talking to friends and family to give updates, planning and having a funeral.  Did I mention I'm an only child, and my dad disappeared long ago? It was all a ragged blur.  Caring for my son kept me both grounded and provided an escape.  Unfortunately, I did what I call surface level grieving.  I cried, I was sad, but I don't really think it penetrated to my core.

Fast forward to about a year later.  I remember it was in July, because Cubby and I had gone to Target, and it was warm, warm enough that I'd left shoes and socks off Cubby.  He had shorts on, so his gorgeous little chubby legs and feet were hanging out, aching to be squeezed.  That's just what a lovely little old lady did.  She squeezed his thighs, played with his toes, and suddenly she had moved her fingers up to play with his curls and squeeze his cheeks.  Now normally, I send off a vibe that says, "Look, do NOT touch" pretty loud and clear.  Rarely did people ever invade my space when I was pregnant to touch my belly or later with my kids to coo at them. My vibe must have been off that day, and Cubby was giggling, so I just looked at this interaction and smiled instead of walking away.

That's when it happened.  This sweet old lady looked at my baby and said "Do you need a grandma?  You look like it.  I think I could be your grandma." Oh, internoodles, I lost my effing crap.  I don't mean I teared up (like I'm doing right now remembering it) demurely.  I mean within 30 seconds I lo-ost my CRAP!  I was sniveling, crying uncontrollably, nose running, unable even to speak and tell this lovely old lady I was not a crazy person on most days, just that she'd hit a nerve.  I have a vague recollection of this woman with an arm around me, and her other arm still playing with Cubby's hair. I cried so hard on her shoulder I lost a contact that day.  Through my blindness, I remember little old lady with a huge wet mascara smudge on her shirt helping me to the check out.  I don't know who she was, and I can only imagine what she told her family, but it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

And yeah, there are days when I'm angry at the unfairness of it all, and there are days that just make me sad.  The days between get better, Jules, but there's always the potential for being blindsided.  Maybe they're up there throwing those people in our path just to make sure we're thinking of them.  I don't know.

No comments:

Post a Comment