Your uncle AJ moved out of Sao Paulo and went to a smaller seaside town. He had a job, a roommate, a bed and friends. That’s what he’d wanted, he told us. But really, it wasn’t. He went through a training program to become a proficient language teacher for a language school for business people. He was taking Portuguese classes. He rode the bus 3 hours to work and 3 hours back. His pay was meager, but he loved the work. Teaching adults. Yet hated that big, impersonal city. The holidays go from Dec 10 into February. So the bed, the roommate and the friends he left to another guy. One from England or Israel or South Africa. That guy will move in on Jan 1 to take A.J.s place.
Uncle A.J. is near the sea, now. Hasn’t a job yet, but most of the business and schools are closed down until after Carnival in February. A new season, new challenges. A lot to figure out. He’s ready for the challenge, he says, and wants to stay for awhile, get a work Visa and succeed. Its hard and he’s hanging in there, having already learned so much, he longs for it to pay off in the long run. Longs for success. Who doesn’t?
Your Grandpa sure works hard at insuring you achieve successes of all kinds. He helps you enough, but not too much. He lets you open eggs for pancakes, figure out how to get those teeny shells back out of the bowl. He gives you a hammer to pound in pegs and tells you that you have good hand-eye coordination. Yes, I do, you reply. He lets you discover your balance on Tony the mule and as you walk foot over heel on the stone wall along the driveway and listens as you describe what your imaginary horse is learning as you guide him in circles around the round pen with a real training stick. He’s quite a grandpa. We are very lucky.
I think so today and particularly appreciate Grandpa because of yesterday, last week and his on-going dedication to hanging in there with us. Your daddy sits at the computer at 6 am after Grandpa called him to come get Liza up and get her changed. Mommy was too tired. I can’t yet pick her up, you either, and was still slowly lifting one knee, sliding my backside with my fist and inch at a time, tucking a shoulder under, starting the slide of next knee…basically, taking a half an hour to get out of bed. Liza awakens, Grandpa picks her up, she cries for me as he calls your tent parents. He hands her over, after she has tossed herself backwards in a move of rejection. He tries to get another hour of sleep before he goes to work. But Sissy’s vocalized frustration, your moody awakening and knowing that daddy is on the computer makes him shout. Shout at daddy, then he trips on a toy, the sleeping dog and spills his coffee.
We are off balance. Grandpa and me. Maybe you guys too. Mom and Dad are for sure. I think you are doing the best, you and Liza. My physical shape reflects my mental one. Spasms and pain into my core; hot lava then solid lead, unfamiliar and agonizing. Steeped in longing, longing for the way we were. Love, resentment and confusion rattle my heart, and pulse into the bruised and tender core. We need to figure this out. Maybe we will talk about what success looks like, what the future holds and each of our places in it. Maybe my back will get better, if I succeed in caring for it, helping it heal and stand strong, maybe then success will be easier to define. Maybe this is success. Just a ripple. And there will be a lot of other successes. We have Gina with you this afternoon, giving you a bath, taking you to play with a friends kids, eating dinner and coming home late. We have me sitting, napping on the chair, Auntie Robin’s rice hull wrap strapped around my middle.
Grandpa sits in the corner his internet is out again, reading and printing documents, as they fall on the floor fed out overshooting the tray, Liza isn’t here to scoop them up and crumple them. You aren’t here to helpfully uncollate them. Its quiet. I notice a trail of toilet paper on the floor to my left, stretching from the bathroom, through the bedroom and out near the couch. I can’t pick it up.
The lessons here are frequent and often annoying. I need help. Practice asking. I have some friends that simply tell me they are coming and arrive. Thank you for that. Help today was wonderful. I forget how great it is to work closely with a friend, chatting, caring for children, making food and all the while sitting with my feet up. Thank you, Janis. Thank you for visits and thank you for helping me feel loved and cared for even when I am self-centered, tired, cranky and overwhelmed. I uncharacteristically complain and talk about me. I don’t want to be bad news. Someplace in this is the grandma who pulls out her brag book at showers, at luncheons and introduces herself as a grandmother of five. Someplace in this is me the wife who adores her husband and flies off to interesting places for a romantic getaway. A grandpa working on the radio teaching you Morse code, how to use a screwdriver and a mitre saw. The you and the Liza that eat dinner and do homework with some clever adults that are devoted to your success and care deeply about you. These all seem attainable. Don’t you think? But only with help.
Success depends on help. That’s a lesson for us. ouchie gma