Monday, November 15, 2010

Short Trip

Well, it's 10:30 now do you want to go to 11:00 mass?
I don't know, maybe I'll read the paper first.
We heard them converse as we walked the long hallway to the elevators.
I'm just going to stay here until they turn the corner.
My 94 year old great grandma waved one last time.

A day earlier we arrived in Atlanta, 2 hours later than scheduled due to the heavy snow in Minneapolis, our nerves shot from the constant whimpering of a teething baby on an airplane. After about a mile long jaunt through the airport I was greeted by my great aunt who held my shoulders and told me that I "did turn out to be quite pretty actually." My great grandmother stared at me in disbelief, marveling at how much my appearance had changed since our last rendezvous. She turned to me, completely unconcerned with the hasty photo shoot, and asked to hold Tallulah.

Grandpa made a game of guessing which one of us was which and consistently referred to Tallulah as a boy. He made several jokes about chasing women while Grandma rolled her eyes. I was comforted to see how little they had changed since I saw them last. The oldest people occupying their assisted living center, they weren't doing half bad. Though their recurring miscommunications due to their resistance to hearing aids supplied us with many laughs, other than Grandma's use of a walker and Grandpa's missing teeth, they are as healthy and sharp as ever. Grandma was even sharp enough to drop several not so subtle hints that she wished I was with Keikai.

After eating breakfast at Waffle House on Sunday morning, we returned to the nursing home to see their apartment. The bright and humid space was filled with pictures of the Cassone family, many taken years ago. As Uncle Philip carefully photographed each one and explained who was in them, Grandma stood by oscillating her attention between the baby and the pictures of times past and I could see salty water glossing over her big blue eyes. No one wanted to say what we were all thinking as we exchanged our parting words; that this was probably the last time we would see each other. Grandma's hug was surprisingly strong and tight and renewed my faith in another meeting.

Our time together was brief, but it was worth every minute. To see Tallulah sitting happily in her great great grandmother's lap was wonderful beyond words. Though I resisted the trip at first, seeing it as an inconvenience, it was truly a great reminder of what I believe to be the purpose of life; spending what little time we have here with the people we love. 

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