“It sure is nice and quiet with the little ones gone,” he says, standing on the bench to plug in the string of little white christmas lights framing the alcove of the kitchen table.
“But I feel a little sad… I know we’ll see them at Christmas.”
He’s talking about his grand-daughters, the 2 and 4 year-old delights that keep us all busy and engaged as they chatter away around this time of day. Normally their mom brings them to Nana and Papa’s house when their dad is away working for a week or two at a time, but a recent move means that home is farther away and visits are likely to be fewer and farther between.
Moments later he presses play on a CD of gorgeous instrumental Christmas carols and it occurs to me that this quiet is too much for him; the house feels empty, and he needs some noise.
He misses those little girls.
This week I’ve been thinking of my Grandma Inga a lot during the show.
She loved to sing. She loved hymns and carols, and she loved Jesus. I think she would really love this show. There’s a moment at the end when we sing about “heaven and the under-earth”. I keep flashing back to this spring, when I unexpectedly discovered her parents’ (my great grandparents’ ) graves while driving through Saskatchewan. I hadn’t even known their names, and there I was, with a hand on each of them. Well, on the concrete above where they lay. I wept and wept that day, feeling so utterly connected to two people I knew nothing about but who are my flesh and blood.
I didn’t grow up close to my grandparents, so I don’t understand what that relationship feels like to most people. I knew my Grandma Inga best, and I also knew my paternal grandma a bit, but we lived far away, and she died when I was 8. Due to divorce, Alzheimer’s, and death, I didn’t know either of my grandfathers at all.
I wanted to live with this family in Rosebud for these 3 months because this solo-cat, this fierce, independent, got-it-covered, don’t-need-nobody chick wanted family. I gained this family by dating their son a hundred years ago, and I’m so grateful that I did. No family is perfect, but they’re mine, and they’re pretty darn wonderful. This Rosebud family is mine, and my real family is mine. And I miss them so much. I miss my daddy – my funny, smart, endearing Daddy. And I miss my mommy – my sassy, creative, smart, expressive Mishka. And I miss my brosif – my deeply loving, resilient, tender, sharply funny brother. And I miss my new sister – my loyal, don’t-take-no-nonsense, passionate, patient sister-in-law.
And by the way, I gained a brother in that used-to-be-boyfriend during my stay. It was never really bad between us, but maybe a little awkward. The Fates placed us here under his parents’ roof at the same time, though neither of us has been around much for something like 4 or 5 years.
It’s been such a gift to experience care and playfulness day-to-day. To write “family” all over my heart like never before.
Today I packed up most of my things to take back home to Calgary. There’s only one more week of shows here in Rosebud, and I’m getting ready to go back to my OTHER family – Boathaus. Where I can be as I am, with people I love, every day.
Life is really beautiful. Not without its challenges, certainly not without its hurts. But it is just so very good and beautiful.