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Today I did something I have not done since we lived under the same roof. I sang while doing the dishes. There was no music. The audience was limited to the cats and kitchen appliances. All were kind as the words of my favorite songs slowly rose from a light hum broken with fragments of refrains to long songs written decades ago.
The last time I sang these songs Grandpa was dying. He was restless. The Social Worker had told me he probably did not realize he was dying and was fighting against the inevitable. He mumbled and twitched as he fought against eternal sleep. I held his hand. Weeks ago, before he lost the ability to speak, he made me promise to “never stop worrying, Jane. Never stop.” I knew he was worrying. He was thinking of Grandma. Of driveways to be shoveled, grass to be cut, of bills to be paid, of health insurance, and of taking care of Grandma. Who would be there for her?
I sang to him then in an effort to calm his mind. He held my hand tight and little by little his muscles relaxed. He opened his eyes and looked at Grandma during the lyrics to Amazing Grace. She gently pressed his hand and said, “I know, who knew Jane could sing?” Then she joined in for a verse or two.
While I wiped down the counters and packed away dinner it seemed natural to sing. It broke the silence. It pushed my brain to remember – all the lyrics. Those lyrics unlocked a chest of memories. I remember you, so young, standing on a stool to be able to wash dishes in the “new” kitchen. So much more interested in acting out a story with the spoons and forks in the soapy water then in sanitizing them. Of waiting for the bus in the morning. How we sang and danced! Just the two of us in the driveway to stay warm or to amuse ourselves until the dreaded yellow bus appeared on the horizon. Sister time. I miss that. I miss Grandpa too. I miss listening to military marches while he told me stories or loaded up the CD player with classic Christmas carols as we hung ornaments on the tree.
Tonight there was healing in that singing. There was happiness in remembering the good times and the sad. As the months have gone by it has been a struggle to adjust to that fact that Grandpa is gone. That you are all grown up and live in a world I cannot always understand.
But I am comforted that we will always have the music. And we will always have the love.