Thursday, June 12, 2008

Laughing Monkeys

The hot sun was finally setting.
Sweat dripped off my nose as I marched the electric mower back and forth across the front yard. The low hum of the engine was a steady drone. The peaks and lows in pitch from the motor determining the thickness of the grass beneath its blade. The noise ended abruptly as I released the handle to wipe my forehead. I was looking forward to a long, cool shower afterwards.
With the front yard completed my job was done. I walked across the front yard to the wooden stairs that lead up to the front door. A bright orange extension cord snaked along the ground next to me, up the stairs and into the house. I opened the screen door, its familiar metal squeal grating yet soothing to my ears. I walked into the dark living room and over to the plug located behind the sofa. From the kitchen, fifteen feet and one dining room away, another squeal erupted from the kitchen.
Jenna's laughter.
"I am not a monkey!" Jenna yelled, putting seven years of conviction into her tone.
Then the sound of Nana laughing.
"You are too a monkey! You're a little monkey!" Nana laughed. The higher pitch in Jenna's laugh told me that Nana was tickling her.
Generations of laughter filled the kitchen; the same kitchen that my mother, my aunts and my siblings and I all (at one time or another) have laughed in.
Grampa had been gone for over twenty years now. Yard work that was once the job of my father and uncle had fallen to me and my cousins. I lived nearby and I was glad to help. Jenna usually stayed in the house with her great-grandmother while I did my chores. This evening Nana and Jenna were making something in the kitchen while I mowed Nana's lawn. Cookies, I think.
It didn't matter.
As I reached for the plug I realized that neither one of them knew that I had come into the house. I almost called out to them. Instead, I just listened. And I smiled. A great, internal smile that filled my heart as I stood and enjoyed the sound of my Nana and my daughter laughing together.
"I am not a monkey! You are!"
Eighty years lay between them but they were one in the moment. Together, laughing in Nana's kitchen.
Nana will be 98 on Sunday, June 15th. She doesn't know that. The stroke that she suffered eight years ago took her mind but not her body. She doesn't remember us anymore.
But we remember her.
Today, I remember the laughter in her kitchen.


Blogger Bridget said...

It's never easy when the mind goes before the body. Cherish those memories often as you seem to do. I do the same with my grandmother. She, too, has not known me for years. I wish her mind had hung on long enough to really know who Riley is. Ma still beams at Riley when we visit even though she has no idea that they are related. It's amazing to watch the connection of the elderly with small children.

10:47 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Fox In Detox said...

It's tough getting old, that's for sure. I lost both sets of grandparents when I was in my late teens and young 20s. They all departed with minds intact. A blessing in disguise.

11:29 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Letera said...

Happy birthday to nana!

11:32 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Great post about a great gift.

11:53 AM, June 17, 2008  

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