i’ve always had long distance family which makes for some great reasons to travel, but doesn’t afford the type of relationship that develops if you are neighbors. fortunately though, i’ve gotten in the habit of talking with my grandmother, maga, once a week. it started after my beloved grandfather, jobo, passed away unexpectedly two years ago. they had been married for 65 years. jobo was the type of man who lit up a room with his personality. he was always joking, always laughing, always telling a story, always entertaining the guests while maga prepared the house and the food for everyone. as such, it turns out i knew jobo better than maga.
but through our weekly phone calls, i’ve come to learn a lot about this woman. she doesn’t express her love in the usual channels, but rather in constantly checking the weather where i am so that she can keep tabs on me by knowing what weather surrounds me. she willingly shares her memories of jobo, of life, of being a military wife, of love letters, of moving, of growing up. her mind is as sharp as ever but she still mixes up the names of her children and grandchildren. at the end of every call, she tells me that there is a place for me stay should i want to come out west for a visit. she wonders why she’s single. she sighs. she talks about her new surroundings — her caretakers and her weather out there in colorado, so that i can keep tabs on her knowing what and who she’s dealing with. she refuses to leave her home. she focuses every ounce of her attention on the phone call when we talk. i can feel her love.
my mother, on the other hand, is impossibly hard to pin down. when she does pick up the phone, she’s always doing something else while talking to you. she’s cleaning or fussing at my younger sister to get moving or wrapping presents or checking the internet or sorting through the mail. she rarely seems to have enough hours in the day to get everything done. she mixes our names up, her children and grandchildren, but mostly just sister E’s and mine. she is incredibly smart. street smart and book smart. she turns down working opportunities so that she can have time for us, be home for us, her children. she accepts school board positions and PTA presidentships and starts youth lacrosse programs so that our school and out-of-school environments will be better, solid, memorable. she works tirelessly and consistently and on days when she doesn’t feel like it so that we don’t want for anything other than for her to sit down, take a rest, relax. i can feel her love.
and then there is me. i am finding hints of maga in my actions and tendrils of my mother in my speeches. like maga, i wonder why i’m single. like my mother, i multi-task. like maga, i focus on phone calls and am confused by technology and write letters instead. like my mother, i volunteer my time in hopes of creating a better environment for those younger than me. like maga, i make sure my hair is done and my makeup is on before leaving the house because you never know who you’ll run into around town. like my mother, i dream of being a mother. like maga, i cherish our weekly chit chats because it’s soothing to hear a familiar voice on the other line telling you stories, teaching you manners, loving you from afar. like my mother, gratitude is all i expect for the things i do. like maga, i play cards. like my mother, i play cards. like maga, i don’t express love easily though i do love deeply. like my mother, i don’t like to cook, but will do so if necessary. like maga, i wish my family was closer. like my mother, i am glad i have wings.
i’ve heard people say in horror “i’m turning into my mother.” i can admit that the thought has crossed my mind before, but most of the time, i couldn’t be more thrilled to do so.