Thursday, September 09, 2010

Gram Swims Backwards!




“Soon, you’ll be swimming, Gram!” PP jokes as she stares down at her Gram, so small and frail in her pile of pillows after her harrowing 'episode' in the hospital last week. Now she’s home, resting at Uncle Joe’s as PP, DHBF and Ruthie (PP’s mom) visit.

Gram laughs, her bright blue eyes twinkling behind her wire-rimmed glasses. “Oh, no!” she giggles, “I don’t swim.”
“Yes you do,” PP asserts. “Don’t you remember?”
Gram shakes her head. The ‘episode’ of the last week has taken a toll on her. Not just her memory, though this is what seems to bother her the most,but her entire self, body and soul has shrunk dramatically.

Of course, this is to be expected. Still PP can’t help but be so very sad that her Gram may be …….

But tonight, Gram is in fine form. Why, PP’s jokes were welcome and definitely encouraged.

“I don’t remember ever swimming!” Gram exclaims.
“Well, you did,” PP grins. “Remember our pool in Hacienda Heights?”
Gram nods, “Yes, I do.”
“Well, I remember one afternoon, you came in the water with me and Paula and Laura (PP's sisters) and we were all laughing so hard because you were swimming backwards!”
“I was?” Gram shakes her head, smiling.
“Yup. It was really funny. We were all in the water and urging you to swim towards us, but whenever you took a stroke for some reason you went backwards instead of forwards!”
Gram laughs, “That’s just what I’m doing now!”

They all laugh. It’s true. Gram’s ‘backwards memory’ of the past is crystal clear. She remembers the color and pattern of the dress she wore (green with black dots) and who was there (her brothers Wilfred and Wycliffe and their wives and children all of whom she can list off--- on the other hand, PP can’t remember them at all!); where they were (at the ranch in Oak Glen) and the time of day (it was late afternoon, round 4 p.m. before mom got supper ready….)All of this taking place over 50 or 60 years ago.


PP marvels at this memory of the past. Esp. since her memory is so awful. She can barely remember what she had for breakfast that morning even though it was only 3 hours ago and even though she always eats the same thing!

But the swimming backwards memory seems to be PP’s alone. Gram has no recollection of it, though she does believe it.
“Well, if you say that I swam backwards, then I swam backwards!” she laughs, shaking her head and staring up at PP from her throne of soft pillows. Her look is long and loving. PP stares back, trying not to cry.

The memory of swimming backwards does help with tear prevention.

If only PP could use this strategy for all of her tearful inclinations!

“Did I tell you about the time that your Aunt Nancy saved your cousin Leora from drowning?” Gram begins, launching into another story.
“No, I’ve never heard that one!” PP encourages, taking Gram’s frail hand into her own.
Gram grips her hand tightly as she begins, “Leora was just a little girl. Oh! She must have been only 7 or 8 years old and your Aunt Nancy, you know how she was such a good swimmer, she saw that Leora was in trouble and so she raced out to the middle of the lake and…..”





Tears start to well up in PP’s eyes, but she wipes them away.

This is no time for weeping!

After all, Gram has a story! Leora is going to be saved by Aunt Nancy!

And Gram's story will certainly save PP....

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

So beautiful--I need to stop my own tearful inclinations. So glad you could be there for gram!

Love you,

lauriecat

CJ said...

Hi Laurie

I guess if you do have any tearful inclinations b/c of the writing, this is why I do it!

Thanks!
love you too!
bigcarolsis

peebers said...

I remember Grandma swimming backwards! It's a great metaphor. We all go backwards, but we still keep swimming with a smile on our face, just like Gram!

CJ said...

That's so cool that you remember Gram's backwards swimming, Snart! And, of course, I love your metaphorical philosophy round this.

Thanks!