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Violet is 5 now, so she’s got this certain way that she carries herself when she moves across the room toward my mom. She sort of
floats. She seems to float or glide toward her Grammy as if there were no effort required
at all. It’s almost as if she’s always been moving toward the older woman,
sitting there in the recliner with the feet kicked back and the soft leopard
print Walmart blanket draped over her legs even though it isn’t even really
drafty or cool in here at all.
I watch my daughter climb up into her grandmother’s lap, and
I notice how my mom doesn’t even think twice about it. She doesn’t say a word.
She hardly even looks at the kid nestling into her arms. Violet just climbs
aboard, the way she always does during TV time in the evening when we’re having
one of our "sleepovers." She has this certain way of just lifting her little
body up into the horizontal chair and laying her tired pre-K head down on my
Many moons ago, that was me. That was me curling up to my
mom on the couch at my Mom-Mom’s house, as Pop-Pop got up out of his beaten
recliner and flicked the jumpy TV through the six or seven dumb channels you got back
in the early '80s, before cables and satellites changed the world. I would crawl
up in between my mom and Mom-Mom, and we would watch C.H.I.P.S. or whatever on Sunday nights, our empty bowls of ice
cream set beside us on the couch.
That was the hardest time in my mom’s life, those years. Raising two boys on her own, living with her own parents in a small
dilapidated house riddled with ancient lead paint and worn-out carpets that
looked like actual Earth; she had escaped the wrath of an alcoholic father who
never allowed himself to be a dad.
But I had no idea at the time. I had no clue what she was
going through; that her heart was shattered and that all of her strength and
her ability to even string a few sentences together was all born up out of her
unstoppable desire to survive for my little brother and me.
She is going to feel the old feeling of what it once felt like to feel so safe in this world.
Tonight, then, watching my own daughter’s easy smile come
across her face as she lays upon her own Grammy without words, I realize that
everything I ever might have thought I might be missing in this world, I’ve had
it all along.
Young men get angry and hungry and beaten down. You move
into your 20s and 30s, and you get to thinking that you can never ever
have enough of whatever it is you think you want. Money, sex, power, power
boats, whatever. The list of desires is endless, really. But the list of needs
is oh so small. I never understood that until really recently. I never figured
any of it out until now: until the soft twinkle in Violet’s eyes began to draw
me in and I began to slip down off of my cloud of my ridiculous dreams as she
climbed up onto my own mom.
The age difference between the two of them is meaningless,
of course. It’s almost like my mom, in her mid-60s is the kid sometimes, and
Violet is the older, wiser one. I can’t explain it, I guess. At least not very
well. They just work when they’re near one another. It’s like they come
together in any random room or out in any random park or parking lot, and it
just doesn’t matter; they’re drawn to each other. They can’t resist one
I have no idea what beauty or love or hard trouble this life
will end up throwing at my little girl. I wish I did know, but I don’t. None of
But I do know one thing.
When it comes down on her, whatever it is, at some point
when her young woman’s heart is breaking down like she never dreamed it could,
she is going to find herself remembering a time, years ago, when she felt the
gentle cheap fleece of her Grammy’s blanket all mixed up in her tiny grip.
She’s going to flash back to certain moments that have long come and gone, and
for just a second or two, she is going to feel the old feeling of what it once
felt like to feel so safe in this world. So safe that nothing could ever
possibly hurt you, or even freaking try.
And in those fleeting bits of time, my baby girl will find
herself just when she needs to. Guided by some invisible hand she used to hold
in a recliner while the SpongeBob
unrolled across the TV, Violet will find the strength to live on and on and on
in the face of so much hurt and pain.
Because that’s just what happens, man.
Because that’s just what ends up happening when Grammys and