My parents came to visit on Saturday. They stayed for 24 hours, took the kids out for dinner that night and played lots of games of hide-and-go-seek. Nothing extraordinary, nothing particularly notable. It is in these ordinary moments that I find the most pleasure… seeing my parents and my children enjoying each other’s company.
My mother arrives like an environmentally conscious Santa Claus, toting a reusable grocery bag full of mysterious treasures for the kids. Many are newspaper clippings: suggestions for books or reviews of movies they might have seen. Often they are word or logic puzzles from their local paper; for me there are usually cartoons. There’s usually something from the dollar store. Tristan is usually obsessed with whatever she brings while she is here; as soon as she leaves, so too does his interest in the item (hence the inherent beauty of the low price).
Another bag of my mother’s always contains her current knitting project. She knits in the car while my father drives. Tristan loves to wrap the house in the balls of yarn; he criss-crosses the furniture legs, counters, and walls until they are spiderwebbed. Paige has learned to knit and whenever Nana comes she enthusiastically picks up her project to join in while my mom knits. Mom knits wherever she goes. Watching Colin’s tennis lesson, sitting and listening to Paige play piano, watching Tristan ride his tricycle. She almost never looks down at her hands, something I was never able to master.
It was warm and sunny this weekend… a welcome break from the endless weeks of snow, ice, and cold we’ve had here in Connecticut. My mother sat out on the front step with Paige and they knit together while Colin shot baskets and Tristan rode his bike. I peered out the window from the kitchen at them sitting there. It made me sad and happy at the same time. I tweeted: “My mom is outside on front step teaching Paige advanced knitting techniques. I smile, I miss my MIL (mother-in-law), I feel lucky to see this moment.”
I can’t separate out the happiness of seeing my children with my mom with the sadness of wishing Barbara were here, too. Maybe that’s selfish. I know there are so many children who don’t have any grandparents that are alive, and mine still have three. But that is part of grief, I think… the effect it can have on happiness. It takes the purity away. I couldn’t just be happy to see the scene; I necessarily wished their other grandmother could have those moments.
I grabbed my phone and went outside. I wanted to capture the picture so mind won’t forget. Children often remember the quiet moments more than the big, fancy events. Paige will always associate knitting with my mom… she’s treasure the talks they had, side by side, as she knit and my mom helped her when she made a mistake. For Colin, having my dad watch him play tennis is one of the ways he likes to share with my parents. He’s proud, and knows my father is proud of him. He always gives a resounding “YES!” when I say Grandpa will be there to watch him play.
After my mom left Paige continued to knit. Shortly thereafter I knocked on her bedroom door. She answered, tears welling up in her eyes. She told me she had made a mistake. She had tried to correct it, but further wrecked the piece she was working on. She had ripped all of her work out. She would start over.
And so she did. And now, as I type, she’s sitting in a chair working diligently to recreate the work she destroyed. I know she’ll work until she goes to bed.
I know how quickly life can change.
For now, I revel in the glory of the ordinary, the everyday, the mundane.