“Did you pay for the second bag?” the bus driver asked me.
I stopped and looked at her.
“Yes. I paid $60”
My grandmother grabbed onto to me using me as her support. With her bad hip she was always afraid of falling and injuring it again.
“If you paid $60 that wouldn’t have been for the second bag. You would pay $49 for the trip and an extra $10 for the second bag. That’s $59,” she said writing something on her clipboard.
I narrowed my eyes at her. It was almost 3am and she was fucking with me.
“Sorry, I rounded.”
“Oh ok” she responded. “Just load the bags under the bus.
“Grandma, get on the bus. I have the bags.”
I loaded the large heavy red suitcases into the storage compartment under the massive coach bus. Lack of sleep was making it hard to focus. I was cranky and uneasy about the situation. Soon the bus carrying my grandmother to the airport would leave but until then, I promised her I would wait with her.
Once I finished getting her suitcases and walker safely and securely under the bus, I climbed the steps inside to find her right up front comfortably sitting in her head to toe purple ensemble. Her shoes and watch were also purple. (I promised her I would mention the watch.)
The minutes ticked by and I felt nervous and anxious all at the same time. I began to buckle her into her seat, arranging her carry-on bag and adjusting her pillow. I was treating her like she was my child going away for the first time to summer camp or something.
“Can you tuck me in too?” Joked the older man sitting behind her with the toothless grin. I laughed politely feeling a little creeped out by his words.
Ten more minutes before the bus had to leave. I waited. I promised her I would stay with her. I sat across from her biting my nails and thinking that I was feeling tightness in my chest.
“Make sure you call me when you get to the airport.” I said.
My legs bounced up and down as I waited. The bouncing leg and nail biting was the only outward evidence of the turmoil building up inside of me. I was feeling a little panicky. I attributed that to not taking my anxiety meds before I left home.
“Okay,” she said.
“And call me when you board.”
It was the reason I bought her the phone.
“Oh and call when you get to Baltimore…”
“Okay,” she laughed.
I checked the time and realized it was time to start saying goodbye. It was always a terrible process for me. I never knew how to say goodbye without feeling awkward and having an anxiety attack.
I hugged her tightly.
She squeezed me back.
“Goodbye. I love you.”
“I loved you too.” I said moving back.
Because I’m not good with farewells and didn’t know if I said goodbye enough, I went in for another hug. She kissed me on the cheek and I finally pulled away still feeling like I shouldn’t leave her.
I did however leave the bus. Before I could exit completely, I heard sniffles come from her direction. Whatever emotions I was trying to hide came bubbling up to the surface. I jogged to my car. Once inside I took a few deep breaths trying to calm down. I stayed, as promised, until the bus pulled away and turned down the street. I started the car and headed back home.
I didn’t get far before I began to cry. It started out as a few tears then quickly became full blown sobs. It was hard to see where I was going with my eyes filled with tears. I cried the entire way home and once there I sat in the car for a few minutes and cried some more.
At first I didn’t understand why I was crying. I chalked it up to me being an extremely sensitive and emotional person. Crying randomly is not new. Deep down though, I could tell it was more than that.
I can equate it to how the Grinch did when his heart grew three sizes. It was the craziest feeling. I was worried about her. My heart was opened to her in a way it never was. How will she survived without me doing things for her. That thought crossed my mind even though she has been taking care of herself for most of her life.
It was an unfamiliar feeling. Caring about her well-being. I am not a cold person but for most of my life she was portrayed as a Wicked Witch and because she can’t for the life of her hold her tongue, she fed right into that role. This resulted in me being very indifferent to her plight and anything that had to do with her.
The past two weeks were the most time I had ever spent with her. We had opened and honest conversations filled with hugs, tears and laughter. The changes we have made in the past two weeks have been monumental. We not only began to understand each other but I felt a growth within me. I felt lighter and better.
I felt closer now to the only grandparent I have left. We created good memories that overshadowed the last 31 years I felt detached from her. Through her I was able to grieve some more. By talking about my mom with the woman who gave birth to her I was able to grieve in ways I never knew I needed to. I was crying tears that took 6 years to shed. Mending a broken heart that I thought would forever be broken.
The past two weeks moved me. Moved me toward a more whole individual.
I was forever changed.