It started because I wasn’t sure I could entertain a toddler by myself an entire weekend for the rest of my life. I wasn’t sure I could stand to be alone with my thoughts an entire weekend. It started because N woke up every day by 5:00 a.m. regardless of the day of the week and I wanted a nap.
I knew Grandma adored having us over and it helped soothe the little sadness she had over not being able to take care of N while I worked. So we just showed up one Sunday morning and stayed until early afternoon. I didn’t intend to make it every Sunday, but that’s what it turned in to.
When my aunt, her daughter, retired she started coming to Sunday lunch too. Then whichever cousin or grandkid was in town or living nearby came. We added spouses, we ditched spouses. We added children and lost a child. Some Sundays were birthday celebrations, some included hunting Easter eggs. On holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving, it is often only the food that is served that is different from a regular Sunday.
We do laundry or pay bills or watch mindless television before or after we eat. We tell stories. I listen when she needs to tell me something about my other aunt, the one who lives with her but can’t cut her own food anymore. I hope I’ve helped her as much as she has helped me. I get to watch her snuggle my kids and make everyone pay the “toll” of a hug as they come in the door or they won’t get any ice cream after lunch. I get to watch her sneaking just one more cookie to the boys. I search for containers after every lunch to put the leftovers in because it’s literally impossible for the woman not to cook more than necessary because she doesn’t want to have too little. “Just in case” is her motto. I may have inherited the tendency (Grandma says her mother was exactly the same).
Over the past year or so she has been calling me some Saturdays to tell me she’s not up to having us over the next day. It doesn’t change her mind when I tell her we can just have sandwiches because it’s about the visit and not the food. She wouldn’t feel right having us come over without offering us a “real” meal. I’ve cooked for us a few times, but she says I’m too busy with the kids and she doesn’t want me to have added work. Like she hasn’t taken care of our entire family all of our lives.
We have two more regular Sundays before my little family moves to Dallas. And one of those is going to be a staged Easter because we’ll be gone for the real one and my Aunt suggested we fake it so the kids could all hunt eggs together. Y’all, that’s my family. We have Easter the Sunday before the real deal so that my kids can hunt eggs with their cousins.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited about our new adventures in Dallas, I am. But, I will miss my Sundays with my Grandma (and Aunts and Uncles and whichever cousins are around). What started out as a way to escape my own thoughts turned in to almost eight years of weekly conversations, ice cream, and paying for lunch with a hug. I am so lucky.