Bound By Love Not Labels
Posted by Mia Tagano on Jul 27, 2019
SO my grandmother was sitting at the desk with her book but no pencil just staring at the letters as if she was trying to find the word. I came to her and said hello. Usually, she at least knows I am connected to her somehow but this time, she looked at me with suspicion. I introduced myself and told her that I was her granddaughter. I don’t know who you are, she said. What are you doing? I ask (better to stay in her world rather than try to move her into mine). I need to find this word she said. Let’s do it together, I said. Okay, she said. And, so I helped her find it with our fingers then found a pencil and marked it for her. Do you want to go outside? I asked. Okay, she said.
We get her things - the box of Japanese flash cards, her book, her purse with the playing cards and little dime purse. I wrap it all in a blanket we will use as a tablecloth. I ask her if she can hold it while I push her wheel chair and hold her cup of tea. She holds her hands out and I place the cloth bundle on her lap. She lifts her legs up as we go down the hall. Somehow she remembers to do this without me telling her. The mind is a funny thing. Outside there are about 5 tables – one with a little sun. I say, do you want to sit where the sun is? Yes, she says. I put the cloth on the table and she helps smooth it down – then I put the rest of the items on the cloth.
Now she is just staring at me as if confused, as if trying to figure me out. Do you know who I am? I ask. She says, I don’t really know. I am your granddaughter, I say. I am not sure what that is. I don’t know, I don’t know you, she says. What is YOUR name? I ask. Me? I’m Mutsuko. She says. Where are you from? I ask. I am Japanese but I was born here. Who are your children? I ask. Bobbie, Gracie, Larry, Irene and Joann, she says. Gracie is my mom, I say. I am your granddaughter. “Oh, okay” she says smiling but still doesn’t really know. She wants to be kind. I think of my friend whose mother has not known him for years; has no recollection, doesn’t speak anymore. Sits vacantly. It is a painful sight for all those living who remember. I am grateful that my grandmother is still so present. I have a sinking feeling that our days are numbered. Still, I have been so blessed. Later my grandmother will read me a book and beat me at poker. And after we go inside and I get her ready for and into bed, she will tell me to come closer and then happy shout, Aren’t I going to get a kiss good-night!? Of course I say and we kiss and hug real tight. Then I tuck her in on the other side of the bed and we kiss and hug again as if for the first time. It isn’t the first time though and someday sooner than later there will be a final time. For now, I feel the blessing of the moment; it doesn’t matter if the word “granddaughter” holds no meaning anymore – we are bound by love not labels. And, at some point, if she turns more inside or decides to leave this world, I will remember the love and laughter we shared. For now, she is still here, still says thank you, and still loves me from a deep and secret place. Tomorrow, I will see her and she may or may not know me - and that will be okay. I still know her. ❤️