My grandfather passed away the early afternoon of July 1st, 2009. He was 83 years old. I was 40 and pregnant with my third son. I spent the night with him and stayed awake singing children's church hymns because it was the only thing I could think to do. For those who have sat in the darkness, while the rest of the apparent world sleeps, understands the metaphor, “The night is darkest just before dawn.” This man was, by all accounts, a father figure and so much more to me. From birth, I spent considerable time with him. I learned so much from him about love, parenting, simplicity, and about the relationship between a mother and son by watching him with his own mother.
The following is a poem I wrote after spending the day with him on his 75th birthday. I was in my early thirties as I watched this amazing dance between my grandfather and my great-grandmother.
A Mother & Son
It seems as if he went directly to her
Standing before her as she laid asleep in her easy chair from home
Now accompanying her new room at the nursing home.
Her mouth open, taking the shape of a lemon
Gums slightly exposed and eyes closed
One hundred years old, she resembled an infant.
He gracefully stroked the side of her face
Once, then twice, and she didn’t respond
Then again with the same gentle caress
As a son would who loved his aging mother.
His large, warm hand glittered with age spots
Stroking her disheveled hair
Touching now under her chin
With one large and tender swoop.
She began to stir with her eyes still closed
At first disoriented, making out his face
Her eyes opened with sheer delight upon recognition.
Arms outstretched and a funny sound coming from her mouth
The sound of a stroke…and of pure love she spoke,
And her eyes twinkled and blinked with joy.
They embracedwith his body bent over to her
She put her head to his chest
Patted his back and held him tightly
As tightly as a mother would to her son on the day she gave birth to him
Seventy-five years earlier.