I visited grandma after ages. i think I've waited far longer than I should have. so much has changed. i'm not used to seeing her in bed, not used to her forgetting who i am, even after I told her my name, and my dad's name. her short term memory seems to be a slate that's being wiped clean as she struggles to complete each sentence she's begun. she doesn't even seem to be aware of what she's saying.
grandma is fascinated by her hands, because that's almost all that she can see. she makes me hold them, asks me how they feel. I tell her they're the most loving hands I've ever held, but she insists they're just oily. she holds them up to the light, against the wall next to her bed, the armrest of my chair, and then asks me to hold them again. aren't they oily? she insists. this time, i'm forced to agree.
grandma insists she's lived in this house only three years. when i tell her it's actually been almost fifty years, she can't believe me. she's quite sure she can't be that old. but when I asked her how old she thinks she is, she says she's hundred. my aunt and I laugh, and she takes her statement back. she admits she has absolutely no idea.
grandma now remembers me. she asks me about my brother. has he finished school? yes, he's been working for years now. she says that's good. we all need to work. except her. she can't work. her hands are too oily to work. she wonders why she's here. i'm of no use any more, she insists. i want to explain to her why she's here. that she still touches our lives with her childlike innocence. but i don't know how to make her understand that. instead, I simply hold her hands again. she says, almost ominously, that "it's time". my aunt immediately interrupts and asks, time for what? grandma is silent for a moment, and then says "changes". it's time for changes. the weather is going to change. everything is going to change. it's that time of the year. it's a difficult time. but we can't complain. we have to be thankful. we have to pray. my aunt agrees, we have to pray and be thankful.
grandma says she prays for everyone. that's all she can do. I nod. she knows why she's here. she prays for people she can't recognize, people she can't remember, maybe even for people that only exist in her mind. but she prays.
it's time for dinner. grandma eats a Nutella sandwich, soaked in milk. she asks me if I want some too. she's sorry that she can't give me anything else to eat. i reassure her that i'm not hungry, and that if I was, I'd definitely help myself to her fridge.
the clock chimes nine. grandma asks me the time. she says it's time to sleep. my aunt agrees. but i don't want to let go of her hands. i promise myself that I'll be back soon. she doesn't protest when i kiss her cheeks, like she used to years ago. i make the sign of the cross on her forehead and say a silent prayer for her. but i can't think of what to ask God. all I can do is thank him. and then i remind myself that this is why we all need god. how else do you explain the purpose of someone who only lives to pray for us?
I thank God for my grandma. she gave me exactly what i needed, today.