Even though I prefer to squish my heavier emotions waaaaaaaay down deep into the pit of my stomach or make jokes about them rather than actually having to, like, feel them, every once in awhile, one of those little buggers will sneak right up on me in the least likely of places.
Over the past several months, my mom, dad, siblings, cousins, and aunt have been talking about how our beloved Grams’s mental health has been declining. I mentioned here how she has a blocked artery that seriously stems the flow of oxygen to her brain, making her forget things more and more rapidly on a daily basis. Doctors don’t want to operate because she’s 84 and it’s risky.
About three weeks ago, my boys and I were at my dad’s “vacation house,” which I love to say because it makes us sound old-money rich (which, as I’ve mentioned before, I learned from The Real Housewives of Australia is so much better than being one of those new-money rich pieces of trash) but is, in actuality, a house in the city that he got for a really good deal because we’re neither kind of rich.
My boys are in love with an old Superman bank, still in its original box and with its still-functioning original battery, that he keeps there. It has a button they can push that will make his cape fly behind him as he says, “I am the man of steel. I’m SUPERMAN. Up, up, and AWAY!”
It made us all giggle so hard to see the boys push that button again and again, and my dad remarked on how that bank keeps them occupied for hours every single time they come to visit.
“It’s because you’ve literally got no other toys here,” I said. “But it doesn’t matter, because it only makes Superman that much more special. It’s kind of like when we used to go to Grams’s house as kids and we played that Simon game for hours. We were happy as larks—what the fck is a lark, by the way?”
My dad and my husband shrugged. I continued.
“That’s how it was at Grams’s house. She kept so few toys for us there because she was obsessed with avoiding clutter. She had the ping-pong table and Simon, and we loved those so much that we begged to go back to her house every weekend.”
It was true. And the memory made me sad. Because my Grams has always been such a tough old bird, sharp as a damned tack, and now, because of a stupid clogged artery, she’s on a mental decline that we’re not sure is ever going to stop. The other day she asked my aunt “the name of that guy I was married to for a long time.”
My grandparents were married for over 50 years when my gramps passed away.
So anyway, it’s no surprise that even someone like me, who has perfected the art of cracking a joke to avoid feeling emotional, will let a tear or two slip like I did three weeks ago when talking about things like this with my husband and my dad. (I say "three weeks ago" like I'm such a hardcore badass on a motorcycle, but you guys, it happens all the fcking time. I'm a sap.)
And then, when we celebrated my son's birthday at my own house a week later (I swear this is relevant to the story), one of the moms came up to me and said, "Shay, I hope you don’t kill me, but we got your little guy kind of a loud, annoying game. My kids had no idea what it was, but I told them TRUST ME, his mom will know and I can promise you that even if he doesn’t like it, she will love it.”
Look what my son opened:
The mom had no idea about my grams’s house and the Simon game. She just assumed I would like the newly re-released gift because every child of the 70’s and 80’s did.
You guys. I started crying and I hugged the mom. We’re friends, so it wasn’t (that) awkward.
“I know I look bat shit fcking crazy right now, Shawna. I know I do,” I blubbered. “But you’ve got to understand the back story…” and I launched right into it for her.
By the end, she was crying, too.
“Dammit,” I sniffed to her, “as hard as I try not to be, I’m just a God person. And this game was a little gift from God, and you were the tool He used to send it to me.”
She wiped a tear from her face. “I’m so glad I got to be part of that good jolt for you, you crazy bitch,” she blubbered right back at me, and we both laughed.