“Did you see the special, Brandon?” my mom asked.
“No, what is it?”
“Barbecue salmon with rice and vegetables.”
“I think we have a winner.”
Eating something healthy prevented me from telling myself I was too busy to enjoy a dinner with my mom and grandma.
Mom got the blackened chicken with rice and beans; both Grandma and I settled for the house special.
The nibbling of chips and salsa while speaking of light topics gave the emotions of the evening permission to flow out the proper way like a roll of toothpaste being squeezed from the bottom.
“Duke and Roscoe (my mom’s grandsons) got email addresses,” Mom shared.” How do I email them from my phone? I can get to my inbox, but where…”
“Let me see your phone.”
I showed Mom where to find the “compose” button so she could ask her grandsons about school, pets, and their siblings.
Grandma smiled and the long booth felt like the center of a triangle that connected 3 generations.
The food came and put us in even better moods.
While wolfing down my salmon, I told them about my latest
mini-venture: selling World's Finest Chocolate Candy Bars to raise money for a literacy program I made.
“Bran, how will you keep the bars from melting?” Grandma asked.
“I don’t know yet,” I admitted to her. “How can I?”
“Well…” she began from a grandmotherly place that I recognized, liked, and appreciated, even in my mid-30s. “Put a layer of ice in a cooler, put down newspapers, and then place your candy bars on top of the newspapers. Put the ice in sandwich baggies—better yet, put your candy bars in baggies, too.”
“Yeah, you don’t want the candy bar wrappers to get wet,” Mom added.
“Good idea,” I agreed. “Bagged-up ice, newspapers, candy bars on top…I can do that.”
“Don’t forget to put your bars in baggies, too.” Grandma reminded.
The topic switched when Grandma pointed out that Mom’s chicken and rice had been cooked with chicken broth. A few seconds passed and the mood was calling for something deeper.
“I was thinking about something the other day,” I started. “Sure, I’ve been upset about being born to a father who screwed with my head, but I was also given a lot.”
They both raised their eyebrows and nodded their heads.
I meant from the Universe but how could I retract now?
“Having 3 grandmas on the same block was really something growing up,” I pulled from out of nowhere.
“I was thinking about that the other day,” Mom expressed.
“I remember—it must have been 1988—one of the grandmas coming over every morning to help us get ready for school,” I recalled.
Grandma jumped in with, "I'd walk across the street to your dad’s house a lot when you and Rachelle were little. I’d come over at 5 am to be there as you got ready for school."
“Yeah, then when we lived with Mom, she’d drop us off at your place and we’d walk to school. By the time we lived across from the bank we could get ready ourselves."
“Yep,” Grandma chimed.
Throughout the dinner, no one seemed to think about when we’d see each other next, and there was no pressure to savor any moments. We just allowed the string of connection to tighten.
The server cleared our plates, I picked at some chips, and Mom announced, “Well, let’s get going.”
Grandma held my arm and we walked out to the bridge-like sidewalk where a waterfall said “hi” to the newcomers and “bye” to the toothpick-carrying patrons.
As Grandma clutched my arm and took steps forward, her energy placed in my mind a photo-like visual of the mid-1980s from an angle I'd never considered.
Printed photos laying everywhere, the thick air lingering through the Iowa sky, Ronald Reagan being discussed on the news, and a grandmother saying, “Someday, I’ll need your help,” as she rocked her squirmy grandson.
The Cubs beat the Rockies 10 to 1.
I liked June 12.