A Moment Of Weakness
Laying my head on grandma’s lap I closed my eyes in pure ecstasy as she stroked my hair with her wrinkled fingers. I’ve always loved the feel of someone stroking my hair… it takes away the stress and reminds me to breath deeper, speak slower and listen to the sound of my own heart beating. Grandma stroked the tense thoughts from head.
Things haven’t always been this way. I recall a time where she wouldn’t let anyone come near her, but it seems that since my grandfather died, she’s learnt to be more affectionate.
We don’t always share the same opinions; in fact we’re almost two worlds apart.
My grandmother lives by her head, I live by my heart and we’re both very stubborn about it. But at times like these where the both of us merely stare into the blue sky in total silence, I don’t believe we could understand each other more.
Without having to say a word, she understood the doubts swimming in my head and instead of criticising them, she simply let them be.
I unwound to the point where I felt the freedom to admit my fears and was surprised that I wasn’t met with the usual strong and stubborn response.
The “General” is what we called grandma. Because there would be no weaknesses in her platoon and everything had a practical solution. Plan and action, there’s nothing more to it.
The first fight I ever had with grandma was on a night she caught me crying. To her, it was an unforgivable weakness to miss someone… even if it were my family that I left behind. I had made my decision to cross oceans and I was to concentrate on nothing more than my future. There was to be no room for the past, the emotions or the tears… Tears are for the weak, feelings are for the weak.
Grandma hates weak people.
But today she didn’t correct me. She didn’t tell me to stop concentrating on the emotional part of my decisions nor stop hurting for the people I was leaving behind… perhaps because this time, she’s one of the people that stays behind in my past…
She sighed once I finished telling her how much my heart was breaking for those that I love… those that I’m leaving behind.
For the only time I can remember in my life, grandma didn’t have words for me and I understood…
I lifted my head from her lap and sat up, putting my arms around her and pressing her head onto my chest. The only other time I can recall her allowing me to do this was when my grandfather died.
She breathed softly as I brushed my fingers through her silvery hair. Her hair was soft and the skin on her face smooth. I brushed away the lines of worry from her brow. Although she didn’t say it, I felt that she too was as heartbroken as I was.
It felt good to have my grandmother in my arms, to have her let me hold her, care for her and comfort her. I don’t understand why she’s so afraid of feeling…
A tear will always be worth a smile! And therefore heartache will always justify the love.
For the first time in any conversation that we’ve shared, Grandma didn’t voice an opinion or dispense any advice. Instead she asked me to bring my family to Madeira once I’ve created one for myself. I had to bite my tongue to suppress the urge to tell her that she’d have to live very long to see that day! So I limited myself to saying that when I find the person I want to share my life with, I’ll be sure to bring him around.
She smiled at the fact that I didn’t argue with her and then surprised me by remembering my grandfather:
“I miss him.”
My grandfather wasn’t the easiest man to deal with. He wasn’t an easy husband or an easy father and in the last few month of his life… he wasn’t the easiest patient or sick child to deal with.
But she loved him… my grandmother loved my grandfather…
I never saw it then, I don’t believe I ever saw them being affectionate with one another.
But I see it now… when she looks at his pictures, when she walks past his couch and the look in her face as she lays in my arms and confesses the emptiness he left behind.
The love was there when she took him coffee in the morning, put his clothes out each time he took a shower and made sure to make his favourite foods. Even though no one liked the rice soft – she would make it that way by “mistake” because he liked it soft.
There was I time in my life where I wanted to be exactly like my grandmother. I wanted to be confident, intelligent and respected. I would grow to be an independent woman who no longer felt fears or doubts, knowing the right choice to make every time.
Time then taught me that just because I have a soft inside, don’t mean that I have a weak shell. That just because I listen to my heart doesn’t mean I have to follow it everywhere it takes me. I learnt that being gullible doesn’t mean that I’m not made of strong stuff… and that being honest with my self involves admitting my fears before facing them. I’m not a weaker person because of the emotions I hold, nor will I be a stronger person if I choose to ignore them. The doubt will be as ever present in me as it is in grandma; we just deal with it in different ways.
There are days that I feel small, tiny, weak and lost in the world. On these days I often search to be alone, to hide my fragility and fears from those that have never seen the sun go down… But the sun does set as sure as it rises.
I don’t believe there is a human alive that’s never needed a shoulder to cry on, some of us just have a harder time admitting it. Doubt and fear will always be a part of our lives, it’s how we deal with them that makes the difference. Perhaps instead of searching for miracles, we should all start searching for a shoulder to lean on.
Thank-You to anyone and everyone who ever offered me their shoulder.