Begin Again.

I haven’t posted anything since October, a few days before Grandma passed away.

In my last post, I wrote about trying to get a bug out of my car and killing it in my attempts to set it free. I sat in the passenger seat while Mark drove us to the hospital to visit my grandmother. The Dodgers were playing in the first game of the World Series. Mark and I both wore blue and listened to the game on the way to the hospital.

At the hospital, we turned the game on the television. Grandma told us, in between moans, how she and Grandpa used to get season tickets. I’ve never seen her in so much pain. She shut her eyes tightly, crying aloud, her body tense and clenched. The pain would come in waves and last about a minute or so. She told us she waited to take the pain meds so she wouldn’t be out of it during our visit. I asked her to please take the meds.

At one point Grandma said, “Okay, I’ll have alcohol now.” She laughed.

“What did you say?” I said. “Say it again so I can get you on camera.”

We all laughed.

I never saw my grandmother drink alcohol my entire life. She never drank. But she drank Pepsi like water. Before we left for the hospital I asked if she needed anything. The answer was, “A cold Pepsi.”

I knew from seeing her in so much pain and the alcohol comment that this was not a good sign.

At some point she finally got her meds and the pain decreased.

The Dodgers beat the Astros that night 3-1. I was glad she got to see it. And I was thankful my husband was there with us. He always made her laugh. We had a great visit despite the pain, there was Pepsi, Dodgers and laughter.

I felt guilty leaving her but her pain had subsided and Mark and I were starving.

We kissed her goodbye, told her we loved her and we’d see her again soon.

Mark and I left and as we walked toward the parking structure, Mark playfully grabbed me and pulled me into the stairwell for a romantic kiss. We kissed and laughed at our cheesy affections.

We went to sushi for dinner. Mark talked a lot with the sushi chef and the chef kept handing us things we didn’t order. But everything was delicious. I think he enjoyed our company.

I told Mark how appreciative I was that he went to see Grandma with me. And how I was so happy that he made her laugh.

We ate too much sushi, drank some beer and sake and felt comforted for the night.

Five days later Grandma passed away and the Dodgers lost game five of the series. Mark and I were there, along with other family members and friends, and it was a very long and heart wrenching day. There was a sense of peace when Grandma finally let go but I had yet to let go.

And I stopped writing for a number of reasons but mostly because I felt lost.

Well, I don’t feel as lost anymore but I’m still working on letting go.

There is so much I could write about her. I could fill a book. And maybe one day I will.

The one thing I will say is: she wanted to be the one, the only, the capital “G” – Grandma. She hated when I would say grandma followed by her name because she wanted to be number one.

Well, Grandma, you were it. My number one “G,” best G-Ma eva. I will love you always.

Little Life Moments.

I tried to save a bug tonight. Actually, I tried to get it out of my car. It sat beside the windowsill of the passenger seat. I lowered the glass with the press of a button. Once it was down, I flicked the bug but it fell further down the side door. I flicked it again and tore its body apart. The bug died at my attempts to set it free.

When I sat down to write, this was the first thing I could think of. And I can’t tell you why, but moments like this stick out in my mind. Little life moments that last only seconds or minutes. They come and go swiftly like the wind.

Speaking of wind, another moment that struck me today was the way the dry leaves tumbled across the grass. They remained low to the ground like wheels rolling on the pavement. The leaves rolled on the earth with force from the wind. And they traveled like a herd of fallen stars.

Does this mean anything? What’s the significance?

I don’t know. It’s just what I remembered. And I felt like writing it down.

Words with Strangers.

The girls were “scootering,” they said as they coasted on wheels to the park. I pushed Abe in the stroller closely behind them.   

An old man in a red hat rode by on a bicycle. “Great job, girls.” He told my scootering children.

I gave him a grin but my heart sank as I read the words across his cap: Make America Great Again.

They were empty words. And I didn’t believe him.

A night or two later, we took the kids to Grand Central Market in Los Angeles for dinner. It is like a large gourmet food court/farmers market with restaurants and food stands. There were a lot of people standing in lines, eating at bar tops and tables with their family and/or friends.

Mark stood in line for the best carnitas tacos from Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. The kids and I stood nearby at a lowered bar for handicapped customers. There was a man with dark curly hair sitting next to us at a table with his large dog in his lap. I felt anxious as I positioned the stroller and Abe came face to face with the dog. “Is your dog friendly?” I asked.

“Yes.” He said.

I gave Abe some rice cakes to keep him happy while we waited. I relaxed, no longer worrying over the dog attacking him or his snacks.

“I ordered to-go.” The man said, “You can have this table once my order is up.”

“Thank you.” I said. “Did you order from Sticky Rice?”

Sticky Rice was the restaurant directly in front of us. Mark mentioned it prior to our trip. I wanted to order something but didn’t know what to order.

“Yes.” He said.

“What did you order?” I asked.

“The first item. The Thai barbeque chicken.”

The Thai barbeque chicken included a papaya salad and sticky rice (I forget the proper name for the order).

I had Alana ask Mark, who was not too far from us and still in line for tacos, what he wanted from Sticky Rice. She returned and said he wanted the beef dish. I walked up to order it but they had sold out.

The man and his dog left. There were two chairs at the table. I let the kids sit while I continued to stand. Another woman stood close by awaiting her order from Sticky Rice. She wore a mustard colored sleeveless blouse. “What did you order?” I asked her.

“Thai barbeque chicken.” She said.

I walked back to the counter and ordered the Thai barbeque chicken and a coconut (Mia asked for the coconut to drink from).

Mark finally returned with the tacos. The tortillas were barely visible under the mountains of carnitas. We all ate them with pleasure. Even Abe enjoyed the carnitas. I gave him a plastic fork to eat with and Mark gasped every time Abe would raise the fork near his face.

Once we finished the tacos, our Thai chicken was delivered to our table along with the coconut. The girls drank from the coconut out of two straws. They loved the coconut water and said it was much better than any other kind they’ve tried.

Alana always jokes about Harmless Harvest (our favorite coconut water). She says they aren’t “harmless” because they harm coconuts.

The food from Sticky Rice was excellent. The chicken was flavorful and juicy. I loved the papaya salad; it had a pickled taste to it. And the sticky rice was sticky, as was the sauce that came with the dish – an orange sweet sticky sauce.

We then headed to the Tostaderia where they served ceviche on top of tostadas – a fried crunchy tortilla. As we arrived there was a customer arguing with the staff at the restaurant across the way. He cursed loudly and people in the area shifted their attention to the scene. Mark pushed the girls back. I grabbed them and pulled them off to the side along with Abe in the stroller. We were afraid a fight would ensue. Luckily, someone had notified security and they arrived to escort the man out of the area. But first, he had a server box up his food for him.

Mark ordered fish ceviche. The girls sat at the bar and we stood behind them. Mark held Abe and we all shared a delicious lime infused fish tostada.

We then headed to McConnell’s Ice Cream for dessert. We decided on two flavors: Earl Gray Tea and Shortbread Cookies and Eureka Lemon and Marionberries. Mark stood in line with Abe for the ice cream. The girls and I stood in front of a Jewish deli whose barstools were upside down on top of the bar. I took a moment to observe the environment: the bright lights and restaurant signs; all kinds of people coming and going; couples sitting and drinking together; and families sharing food.

Mark brought over two cups of ice cream and four spoons. We huddled together and ate the delicious ice cream. I was surprised the kids enjoyed the Earl Gray Tea as much as they did. It was my first choice. 

 

The street was dark when we left Grand Central Market. All the lights were off at Blue Bottle Coffee across the way. We were disappointed because we had planned to buy coffee there before heading home. We walked as a unit, closely together, on the unfamiliar road. A man walked down the sidewalk perpendicular to us. He shouted: “That’s a beautiful family, man!”

Mark said, “Thanks man.” Or something like that.

I smiled and looked at Mark. He turned to me and said, “See, now that was real.”