A few days ago, as I scanned my bookcases filled with titles that have been with me for almost twenty years, trying to decide which to keep and toss, I found this card and message. It was lost inside a book on natural home remedies, bought at a used bookstore years ago, read once and seldom consulted since. While I don’t doubt that it was a message to myself during the period of my life that I lived 2500 miles away from family, I have only a muted memory of it. I believe that it used to hang somewhere in an apartment, possibly on a bathroom mirror or refrigerator where I would see it often. It’s preserved appearance suggests, perhaps, that it held a place in various books I was reading at the time. The more I look upon it, the better I remember creating this warning to myself, and I feel some regret for having misplaced it.
In the morning, I leave with my daughters to visit my ailing grandparents. It’s been four years since I visited their home, although they have travelled thrice in that time to visit me. I’ve sloughed off the guilt to my constant demands as a mother, to pregnancies, to nursing, to weather. To whatever. Recently, my grandmother was diagnosed with Lewy Body Syndrome. We don’t know how long she’s had it or how much longer she’ll be with us. I speak with my grandfather every couple of weeks, and I can hear Mama Ann prattling in the background alongside the television. She always sounds upbeat when we’re on the phone together, though I can never be sure if her account of the day’s events reflects the facts. Papa Roy, too, is starting to sound worse. As I spoke with him on Monday night, touching base about my upcoming visit, I fancied at first that he was inebriated. The longer we talked, the more I realized that constant care of my grandmother has caused him to lose a little bit of his mental grip on the world. He sounds a little silly, a little detached.
It will be a sad trip, but a good trip, too. I haven’t traveled alone with my girls in six years, so I’m excited about the chance to spoil them a bit on the journey. We’ll stop at a nice restaurant for lunch, spread a picnic under a live oak at a rest stop somewhere. We’ll be able to have actual conversations since they’ll sit right behind me, not in the third row on the other side of our high-decible boys. I can answer all their deep questions about what they are thinking of lately, what they are dreaming of. At least, I hope we have those conversations. And, I’ll remember all the road trips that my grandparents took me on when I was their age. And one day in the future, when they leave home, I’ll make them a little reminder card of their own.