When I was born, my grandmother was at the hospital. The nurses wheeled me into the room, she immediately scooped me up and whispered, we’re going to be great friends.
She’s not your typical grandmother. She hardly bakes cookies and has a deep, raspy voice from every cigarette she sat and chain smoked at the local “hotel”. She’s full of piss and vinegar, independence and courage. When I was little she would take me to shows, theatre was our thing. As the costume designer for a local theatre troupe, we saw everything that hit that stage. We had free tickets to Disney on Ice, which I’m sure she muscled through just for me.
When I turned 16 and was openly smoking, I joined her at the kitchen table. This was a monumental moment, I was finally an adult. The kitchen table is sacred, stories are told, eras explained, wine is drank (and sometimes spilled) and the conversation is endlessly intriguing. I remember the way my Mom would hold her cigarette in her hand, resting her head against her thumb, laughing over a big glass of red. My Poppa would lean back in his chair and rub his belly. My Dad, hunched over his own cigarette, hands together, chuckling his silent chuckle. Those were the days.
When I was 22, I left my partner. I was seeking solace, I needed a place to hide. My Gram took me in before I could even explain the situation. We lived like that for a year. Sometimes we would stay up way into the night just talking and laughing. Other times we would meet at the kitchen table at 3am just to watch a thunderstorm. Neither of us speaking, just listening and smoking.
My Gram became too old to take care of her house and when my partner and I got back together we took it over. She moved into a little apartment in a seniors residence and we made the house our own. Unfortunately, after a few years she decided to sell and that was the end of our lovely little house.
But every Sunday, without fail, we still sit at her kitchen table and argue politics, she tells me stories of her youth, we go over family history and debate birth orders. We talk about my mental health, she reassures me and tells me of my greatness. We truly are great friends.
But, everything must come to and end and we’ve had a good run. This Decemeber she’ll be moving across country to live with my uncle. I feel as though I’ll never see her again. I mourn for our friendship and the kitchen table, I’m grieving the loss of my best friend and my Grandmother. My rock, my sanctuary. What might be a small wave of sadness some days feels like a tsunami of grief and heartbreak. I don’t know how I’ll do it without her.
For now I’ll soak up the moments, spending as much time at that table as I can.