When I was a little girl, I mostly remember my Grandpa wearing Groucho Marx glasses and being that goofy Grandpa that everyone hopes for. He loved kids, he loved baseball, and he really loved herbal supplements. I mean, really, really loved them. But he must have been doing something right because he lived to be 96. He was very religious, but he was a smart ass too. Recently, my mom snuck out of his house early so that she could make the long drive back to her own home in Southern California. Later on the phone, he said to her, “I thought for sure you’d just been Raptured up.”
I spent the last week helping plan his funeral, cleaning out his room, and trying to distract my mom with the antics of my two-year-old and her sweet little cousin. And what I realized during the whole thing was that I probably wasn’t going to provide as much help as I had hoped. My sister and the little girls and I could surround my mom with the love and support that only comes from the closest women in your life. But, I couldn’t make it not sad, I couldn’t make the extended family dynamics happier, I couldn’t make my mom not have to go through everything she is going to have to go through.
The last day that I was there, my sister was cleaning my Grandpa’s closet and discovered a nice wooden floor hiding beneath the decades-old carpeting. All of a sudden that wooden floor become the entire focus of our energy. Finally! That floor was a task, with steps, and an ending, and an accomplishment.
We went a little insane ourselves, for a while. While the two little girls slept an unprecedented three hours, we moved furniture and cut carpeting and pulled up padding and wrenched out the nail-studded wooden edges and cleaned and polished with wild abandon. We felt like with every swipe of the Exacto knife, we were doing this thing that was going to help a situation that we felt helpless in.
And then. It was fixed. It felt like the biggest thing in the world and the smallest thing in the world. The girls woke up just as we lay in an exhausted heap and they demanded that we feed them and watch their jumping skills and blow bubbles with them and watch their every move so that they wouldn’t torment the cat or change the passwords on my uncle’s computer.
We ultimately knew we couldn’t fix any of the craziness that was surrounding us. Sometimes the crazy is too big and too old and too ground into the fiber of a family.
But we were able to fix that fricking floor.