My ‘Memaw'(grandmother) would say that when I asked her why she would take the time to sweep an entire driveway and two sidewalks for it only to get dirty again. I never understood what she meant, until now. Now, that I am an adult with lots of responsibilities and tasks to accomplish everyday, I can fully appreciate a quiet moment. I see the value in a chore that will allow your mind to wander, and be at peace.
The other night, we had a cookout for our community group at the house. Since our labrador retriever lives on the front porch, it can get nasty. I took our broom, and went to sweep the entry way and the door mat where she likes to sleep. Once I finished the porch, I swept the steps and sidewalk. Immediately, I heard it. That even, swishing sound of straw against brick and concrete. It was like music, and my ‘Memaw’ felt very close.
I pictured her ‘sweeping’ on a beautiful fall day when I was 10 years old and waiting on the steps for her to finish. She said that she would play basketball with me when the job was done. She was a great basketball player and athlete. She was an old school shooter, using both hands to bring the ball up from her chest. But, she hardly missed, a shot or a game of mine. Whether it was soccer, baseball, or basketball.
This time of year is hard. It was in early August two years ago, that my uncle arranged for her to come to my mother’s house from the nursing home for both of my daughter’s birthday party. While we were waiting, he said that he thought it was the last trip for her. Her last trip home. She was beginning to fade. He was right, though I was angry at him for recognizing also.
Four weeks later, my husband and I stopped by the home so that I could tell her ‘goodnight.’ It was dark as I walked into her room. She was sleeping, and changed so much in a month. It took me longer to get her attention. She opened her eyes for a minute, and said, “Hey.”
I held her hand, and she told me that she was tired. I asked her if she meant, sleepy. “No,” she said. “I am so tired.” I said that it was alright to be tired, but internally, it was not alright. For her to be tired or old. But, giving her my permission was my last gift to the woman who gave me so much. I told her I loved her, and walked out of the room. I began to cry, and fell into my husband’s arms like a child. Like the child that I was to her.
How could I have known in that moment, that less than two weeks later, she would be gone. I’m so thankful that I was with her often in that last month. Even when she took her last breath and drifted away from this earth.