I struggle with the fact that there are only two of us left out of a family of four. My son was raised in a family stricken by grief. At seven, he was told his younger sister was going to St. Jude’s. We had to fly to Memphis monthly for her treatments. He was farmed out to friends and was picked up as soon as we returned. The saddest thing he ever said to me was that sometimes we forgot to feed him. Now this was his memory and so it is true. But I never recall doing that. But here must have been a few times when we got home late and assumed the people he was with had fed him! His sister died when he was eleven and years of muted living followed that.
He and I dealt with the loss of his sister and father by staying angry with each other, although neither of us caused the situation. Under the anger was such explosive grief that we felt it must be suppressed.
So you will appreciate what I say next. For about five years now we are finding peace in our relationship. Yesterday I said to him, “If you’re not doing anything today, would you mind driving me to take a pair of readers back to the pharmacy? He said, “No, just let me know when you want to go.”
It was a beautiful September day. After the drugstore return, I said, “Let’s walk down to the deli and get a bite to eat.” We sat there eating and enjoying people-watching. Then I suggested we drive down Peachtree Road a bit to another shopping center where I could pop in a few shops.
There is an old variety store there and we had fun just poking around the aisles. They carry every conceivable thing a store like that should carry. We stood reading hilariously sarcastic things on everything from mugs to magnets. “Look,” I said, “Bacon bandaids, mustache bandaids….”
Then we wandered down to the hardware store where I got a cork mat to put under a pot in the kitchen. I wanted a small broom but didn’t find one. Then we went to Baskin-Robbins and had ice cream. He drove me past his best friend’s house on the way home. The neighborhoods are lovely in that part of town. We marveled at the old homes with their meticulous lawns. I marveled at how our relationship has changed. We don’t speak of it often, but it points to the fact that good things come in small packages. This day was one of those.