Thursday, February 7, 2013

Eucalyptus, Sugar, Butter, and Soap

My grandma died in March of 2008. I realize everyone's grandma dies sometime and, without making it a competition, I loved my grammy more than most. I started travelling with my grammy when I was about two - traipsing to Michigan and Virginia to visit her brothers and their families. I know, from her stories, that she told me if I would walk on my own, through the airport and everywhere, that I could come with her. And I did. And we did. And it was the beginning of one of my most treasured relationships. I really can't tell you how amazing she was and how much I loved her. Or how much she treasured me.

When I found out she had Cancer the second time, I was living in DC. I decided to move home. The only thing in my way was a four month hostile-territory deployment overseas that I had already agreed to and really wanted to do. So, I set up my deployment, secretly applied to graduate school at Rice University (the only grad school I ever applied to), and made my plans - by September of 2007, I would be living in Texas. I picked Rice because grammy lived in Rice village. If my best friend Ella hadn't moved with me, I would have lived with my grandma. That being said, I am so glad Ella came with me - it gave me my best friend when I needed her most and a place to escape to when the Cancer was too much.

The idea of living with your grammy probably strikes most as insane but I had spent many summers in her townhome and she was a great roommate. Even in high school, I had slumber parties at her house, just the two of us. We simply spent a lot of time together. And we were always so productive together - we baked, we cooked, we sewed, we knitted, we did logic puzzles, we watched David Letterman and Wheel of Fortune on a terrible teeny tiny tv. Once she was sick we still watched tv, did crosswords, drank smoothies, and napped.

All of this just sets up for the story about my kids, which is really what this blog is all about.

Yesterday, while I was holding Zahra close before putting her into her basinet for naptime, I inhaled her hair, and she smelled like my grammy. Not kind of like her, not a resemblance. She had her smell. So, I skipped the bed and we snuggled up together and I breathed her in all nap long. (The nanny was here for Zayd.) Then when bathtime came, I skipped it. I didn't want to wash the smell away just yet. I have had an extremely trying two weeks of motherhood - the flu, sleep issues, second year molars, Zahra's growth spurt, returning to work - you name it. And I just wanted to hang out with my grammy. It made me a little melancholy but mostly not. Mostly it gave me the time to remember her; time I honestly hadn't been fitting in before. When someone dies, you think you will never forget, and I suppose you don't. But you kind of forget to remember. You forget that you made flour-less oat cookies with your grammy once long ago. Probably pretty similar to the cookies you just made with Zayd. Except Zayd thought of adding pumpkin seeds in his. Gigi would have been so proud. The memory is in there, but you forget to pluck it out. You forget unless something gives you pause, a minute to reach in and remember.

I had never thought about what my grandma smelled like. And I don't mean that old people smell or that Cancer smell. I mean the smell underneath it. It turns out, she smelled like Eucalyptus, Sugar, Butter, and Soap. I am so grateful to my amazing little girl for giving me two hours yesterday to remember and identify the smell.

So, today came and Zayd hadn't been properly bathed and scrubbed in too long and Zahra was due as well. I figured if we were going to wash away the grammy smell we should make an event of it. So, we had our first shared bath with both Mammenitos. Neither loved it. But lets forget to remember that. :) Lets remember the cute photos.

We just returned from Mahncke Mamas Thursday brunch early because Zayd was a hysterical mess that started asking to take his nap at 9:45 this morning. I should have listened... I carried him inside, got his milk ready, and started the naptime ritual. He needed some extra rocking and I consented until Z2 started screaming, then I told Zayd I had to leave. And then he started screaming.  So, I came out, got the lolli, started to wrap her up in my newest Didymos wrap (more later) and smelled her sweet head. Eucalyptus, Sugar, Butter, and Soap. And I cried just a little, and came to write this post.

Zayd settled like the big boy that he is, without needing his mama afterall.

I am not sure exactly what I believe about the afterlife and I certainly can't articulate it. I love the idea that grammy knows I am having a heck of a week so she sent her smell to my little baby. My little Zahra Ruth, from her Gigi Pauline Ruth. She sent it so I can remember her, and remember that she had four babies, and that we are all just doing our best. And that that is good enough. I love the idea that she is trying to help me through a little stuck place. And I also love genetics. I love the idea that this smell is genetically also Zahra's smell. Because then it can stay forever.

In Pittsburgh celebrating Uncle Jerry at a very posh awards ceremony with Ed Rendell

She was very very proud.

Admiring her fifth great grandchild at Brianna first Christmas

Running off with her White Elephant gift before anyone could steal it back, at her last Christmas

Lounging at the beach on a family vacation around 2006. This was her beating Cancer.
What makes you remember?

1 comment:

  1. Ohhh, what a beautiful post. What beautiful women. I remember your Grandma singing Texan songs in the hospital and giggling about her compression socks like a teenager. She was something else, just like her granddaughter, and just like her great-granddaughter Zahra Ruth.