The very last day of June–when everyone says, “I can’t believe it’s already the end of June!”–the sweltering heat had arrived. And so had we– my parents, my younger brother, and some of our extended family–to a neighborhood park for the final little league game of the season. We all came to see Jack play, including my beloved grandmother with all her shrewd wit and obstinance, fragile hip notwithstanding. Most everyone settled in near the back-end of the park, taking cover in the lovely shade,
sipping cool water,
on a bench.
My dear grandmother thought otherwise to sit up closer to the action, and so she took off down the sidewalk with a purposive stride. Uncertain as to where exactly she was going, I followed suit, appeared at her side, and we strolled together towards third base. The sun beat down an indefatigable glare,
cooking the sidewalks;
She sat down confidently on the concrete steps alongside the diamond and whipped out a smart blue umbrella, which I obediently offered to hold above the two of us for the duration of the game. I inquired if she would like any sunscreen, to which she laughed, instantly, and replied, “Too late for that. The damage is done.”
It was but half an hour in, and there I was, 24 years old–a peak of my young adulthood–my feet, two fried eggs, my hair sticking to the nape of my neck like seaweed; I shifted listlessly, one butt bone to the other on the hot, unforgiving step. And looking to my left, to the image of my grandmother there beside me,
85 years old,
enduring and still,
captivated by baseball.
She was entirely unaware of my discomfort, my desperation. I again politely offer my concern: “Is this still all right–you know, over here, Grandma?” To which she said with easy resolve, “I’m fine. Do you need to go back over there?”
And so we spent the hour together in the sun, laughing softly at the 7 year olds swing and stretch, slide and fall on top of each other. One of the boys in particular caught my grandmother’s attention as he ran the bases, awkwardly at best. Aloud, with feeling, she exclaimed, “I wonder if he has a handicap?”
Those moments are the ones you hold for safekeeping, ones that make your heart grow, with great love and sorrow, too; knowing that
everything is impermanent,
but worth all the while.
When the game was over, I waited patiently for her to mention our leave, and when she did, it was a bittersweet end, a most insufferable, delightfully memorable afternoon.