Who’s Batty? I am. That’s what my granddaughter, Zoe named me when she was just beginning to talk and it’s stuck. Doesn’t sound anything like Grandma or Grammy or any other name little kids call their grandmothers. But that’s fine by me. The evening she was born, when I first held her, she looked at me with wide open eyes and a wrinkly forehead. I think she recognized me from some other lifetime as a cray old lady who did magic tricks.
I admit I like the name and feel that Zoe is one of a very few who knows me for who I really am. In truth, I am a bit batty. I come from a long line of other batty people who had tough lives. I’m proud to pass my own battiness on, as long as the recipient understands that it’s something that can be fun as well as painful. It’s the sad, painful part we want to let go of, going rather for the silly, live-your-life-wide-open kind of life. I’ve struggled with the painful part all of my life and I’m finally in the crazy, happy place I belong. My hysterical laughter no longer embarrasses me. I can ask stupid questions, pretend I’m very smart, and say what I mean. The trick is to do it without doing anyone harm.
I’m recently back from a joyful summer break visiting my daughter, Lisa, her partner, Deena and Zoe and Noah of course. They live in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, a good six and half hour haul one way. For me that’s a long time to sit in a car. Fortunately for me, Bill does most of the driving and we stop three or four times along the way to stretch, have a meal and attend to other needs. But it’s so worth the drive just to be with them and out of Central Virginia’s hot, hazy and humid summer days.
Arriving is always one of the best parts of each visit. Glowing smiles abound when I open the car door and step out to be smothered in huge hugs and sweet kisses. I take in how much Zoe and Noah have grown and notice a few gray hairs have appeared on Lisa’s head. I’m sure they notice the changes I’ve undergone too … my newest wrinkles and the unmistakable stiffness I feel as I climb out of the car.
If we saw each other more often, we’d hardly notice the subtle changes that take place on a daily basis, but since we only see each other three or four times a year, those changes are always the first things we see. I clearly remember watching my parents age every time we had a chance to visit after I’d moved away from home. I always imagined them the way I saw them the last time we were together. I would find myself feeling a bit sad as I watched them move through their own journeys toward the end of life. But now, my eyes are trained on the maturing of two young people who have their whole lives ahead of them.
During our first couple of hours together we feel the excitement of wanting to sit down and talk about all the things we miss telling each other during our weekly phone calls. For me, there is no substitute for an in-person, face-to-face, laugh and cry together visit. Skype and my handy Iphone are merely pretense. The best visits come with seeing each other for real, laughing so hard we almost wet your pants and holding each other through times of sadness.
Noah turned nine in July, and Zoe will be twelve at the end of September. I adored them as babies but now I love them even more as they grow in body, mind, and spirit, providing deeper conversations than we’ve had before. Zoe has always been a writer. Since she was first able to hold a pencil and spell, she’s written stories, always accompanied with her brilliant drawings. Now her interests are expanding to photography and film. I watched her first efforts at animation and I have a feeling a camera is in the works for her birthday.
Noah is all about space and Star Wars. For his birthday I sent him a model of our planetary system that he put together with the help of his mom and Deena. It now hangs proudly over his bed. He also has a large regiment of tiny plastic soldiers that he lines up to do battle with each other. He is very fond of his Grandaddy, Bill, wanting to spend as much “boy time” with him as possible. The feeling is mutual. They spent an evening at a minor league baseball game at which the local team won (Yay), and frequently got lost on their way to other places like Chucky Cheese. Needless to say, good ole Granddad was a bit worn by the time we left to come home.
Zoe wanted “girly time,” and on our last day there, I treated her to her first Pedicure ever. She giggled the whole time, being very ticklish, and chose silver and a bright red for her toe nails. I, of course, not to be outdone, had to have two colors as well and chose a teal blue and a deep scarlet. I liked Zoe’s combo much better. Lisa was the boring one with only one color, red. After our pedicures we met the “boys” for lunch at Plant, one of Asheville’s finest vegan restaurants. Deena, Lisa’s loving significant other, couldn’t join us much of time as she works long days. We missed her but had the weekend and some evenings to catch up with her.
Over the week we shopped for school supplies, took nice long walks in the cool of morning and swam together in the pool at the nearby fitness center. Zoe would dive under water and attack my feet like a crab, while Noah sat on Bill’s shoulders and loved being thrown over and over again into the water. We shared wonderful meals together and each afternoon we took some time to go our separate ways for napping, reading or just being alone. Zoe and Noah spent two nights with us in the small condo we rent when we visit and Lisa and Deena had some time without the kids. I remember how valuable those times were when Lisa and Mark were small. It was a spectacular visit.
Like any grandmother who is madly in love with her kids, I admit the real reason I wrote this post is that I intend it as a love letter to them and to show off my family in photos. So forget what we did and just oooh and aaah over this batty woman’s pride and joy! (-: