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Grammys & Violets

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.

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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 mom’s shoulder.

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 another.

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 us does.

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.

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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 Violets collide.

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