"That Dana and Susan, mmmm, their special," she says. Her voice rattles. The wrinkles at the corners of her eyes smile. "Mmmm, that Dana, he always talks to me," Great-Grammie squints when she smiles. "And Susan, she held the baby for you."
The living room splayed in tissue wrap and dust from the feet of family, Craig's Grammie and I squint our eyes and take in the last moments, ride out the coattails of the evening. Another birthday and our whole big family gathers. Conversation spins like a giant ferris wheel. I marvel at the love between us.
"And, I told him I will pray for him," she nods.
"Oh, thank-you, Grammie, thank-you." I pat her arm.
Everyday she prays down her prayer list, stair steps into the day on angel wings. I watch her white hair all curls and wisp. She talks on with love for my parents, and as she weaves the words, I feel it, the underpinnings of love: the strength one generation passes to the next.
856. A pink dress, white flowers and ruffles for Peter and Rose's wedding.
857. Silver flip-flops to match.
858. A bouquet of pretty clothes for girls.
859. Jack and Craig off fishing like men.
860. Myra Rose nuzzled into my neck.
861. A family date at the Costco deli and how we all share my almond rolled chocolate ice cream bar.
862. A wedding shower and how us sister-in-laws gather like friends.
863. How niece and nephew come early when they ride to church with us and dress the baby and feed the children and add many hands to our morning routine.
864. How we all trundle into church early for once.
865. Slow rain that drenches deep.
866. Rotisserie chicken, caesar salad, wild rice with caramelized onions, and dinner rolls: birthday dinner.
867. The salutation: you're the people who care about these kids the most, I'm so glad you could be here. Family.
868. Bare feet, fresh swept hardwood floors.
869. How Jane and I spend away a whole afternoon folding paper pots and sipping coffee and sweet-milk.
870. Lulie's declaration," I'm a WOMAN now because I'm BIGGER," eyebrows raised, chin tucked.
871. The gush of love I feel for my parents when Great-Grammie speaks such affection for them.
872. How husband rolls up the big living room rug and shines the floors for the party. And how he leaves our big dining table moored out in the living room just for a change, for me.
873. His strong arms and steady pace.