This weekend I had roughly 14 hours of visitation with my Mom, Dad, and Grandmother (maternal). Visitation is the single most painful experience that I go through. Visitation is the only social experience that is TRULY fulfilling. This weekend’s visits were especially difficult because Grandma was here. My Grandma and I are incredibly close. She’s a single mother to an only child who has only one son (that’s me), which leaves my poor Grandma with a total Grandchildren count of ME. She’s a truly amazing woman, in ways that may not be quite so obvious at first blush (in contrast to her daughter who is amazing in ways that assert themselves proudly throughout her life). She’s stronger and wiser than I think she’s ever given credit for because she’s a high-school dropout and doesn’t exhibit the obvious social markers of higher education her daughter and son-in-law do. She has a quiet, determined sense of humor, that has kept her sane and sated through a life that bore more than its share of struggle, hardship, loss, and sadness. She has the most gently loving heart of nearly anyone that I’ve met. She has pretty bad hearing loss and an obnoxious aversion to her hearing aids (if you’re reading this, please wear them so we can talk more next time! lso, you’re amazing and I love you!), so visits with her in a room full of loud families is mostly about being present with her and carrying on the conversation with whoever came with her. But I can see that she’s getting older. I never know which visit will be our last, or if God will grant her the 30 years I’ve been begging him for, and we have dozens of adventures yet to come in the world at large. But as she’s walking out that door, all I know is that I love them with a ferocity I never would have discovered if not in prison. I enjoyed the 14 hours of silent visiting that my Grandmother and I shared over the past couple of days as much if not more than the 14 hours of conversation with each of my parents, combined. There’s a love so extreme in her, that she’ll through 14 hours of white noise, just to spend that time looking at me and being looked at by me, sharing each other’s space, and finally sharing a long tender hug. I feel so absurdly valuable, so cherished. It’s one of the only times I’m truly at peace.
I hope that following her example, I can somehow learn how to love as fully, as simply, and as totally as I am loved by my Grandma Sandy.