September 26, 2013 1:24 pm From Heart to Heart
Jane woke up to the sound of her mother’s voice on the phone. Elizabeth’s voice was different, trembly. She couldn’t really hear what her mother was actually saying. Jane sat up, to listen better.
“I know Daddy. Yes, I will bring the children with me. They will want to see you both.”
Jane got out of bed, quietly so as not to wake her brother Dylan, who slept in another bed in the same room. In semi darkness Jane quickly padded toward her mother’s voice. She found her, leaning over her desk with her head in her hand. Jane climbed on her mother’s lap.
“I love you too, Daddy.” Elizabeth was saying. “We’ll bring lunch. Please take care of yourself, too.” Elizabeth slowly hung up the phone.
Jane put her arms around her mother. “I love you, Mommy.”
“Jane, I know, thank you. I love you,” she replied. Her voice cracked.
The sun came creeping up and light filled the room. Jane could see her mother’s face more clearly. Tears were on her cheeks. Jane turned her mother’s rings with her small fingers and felt her warmth. She patted her hands.
“Dear Jane,” Elizabeth began. She was looking into Jane’s blue eyes and could suddenly see herself as a little girl. She felt closer to Jane than ever. “You know Nana has not been feeling well and her heart is very weak.” Elizabeth could feel Jane begin to cry. She picked her up and held her. Jane’s flannel nightgown was a comfort to them both. They stayed in each other’s arms, sharing their heartache in the cool fall air.
“Can’t Nana get her heart fixed?”
“Not this time, Jane.”
“Can we go and pat her and hug Gramp?”
“Yes we can. Let’s let Dylan sleep a bit longer. Why don’t we go downstairs and have a little breakfast.”
Jane wouldn’t let Elizabeth out of her sight. She followed her mother everywhere as Elizabeth made a little cocoa for Jane and some tea for herself. They sat at their cozy wooden kitchen table.
“Mommy, maybe there’s a new doctor who will know how to help Nana. There are sometimes, right?”
“Yes there are. But Nana’s own doctor knows her so well. He says there are just too many things wrong.”
Just then they heard Dylan’s feet thump on the floor above them.
Jane ran up the stairs. She whispered to Dylan, “Mommy is very sad. Nana’s heart is almost broken and maybe can’t get fixed.” Dylan just looked at her. The two children went down to the kitchen.
“Hello Dylan,” Elizabeth said, mustering up the last bit of cheer she had.
“Hi Mommy. Nana is sick? I’m sick too.”
Both children were nuzzling into their mother’s faded blue jeans. Elizabeth patted their heads and said, “Maybe we are all a little bit sick.”
Elizabeth made some more cocoa. Luckily it was Saturday, so there were no arrangements to change. As the children ate their toast and eggs, Elizabeth told them they would be going to see their grandparents soon.
“And thank goodness Daddy will be coming home tonight,” she told the children. “His business trip is over.”
In minutes the children were dressed and ready to go. Dylan brought Elizabeth her purse. Jane found the car keys on the hall table. She stooped to pick some late blooming zinnias. “These are for Nana’s room.”
“That’s so nice, sweetheart. They will cheer her up.” Elizabeth gave her a little smile.
“I want something to give too,” Dylan insisted. He grabbed a clump of grass. “This is for their yard.”
“Perfect,” Elizabeth said softly. “Let’s get going.” Jane buckled herself in while Elizabeth fastened Dylan’s car seat. On the way, they stopped at a sandwich shop they knew to pick up some lunch.
“Don’t forget pickles for Gramp,” Jane said softly, to her mother. They were back in the car in minutes.
Driving up the familiar driveway, Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears. Her father came down the brick path smiling tenderly. He looked older now and thinner.
“Hi, Gramp,” Jane called with a big smile.
Dylan echoed, “Hi Gwamp!”
They all hugged. Gramp smiled as he took the bag of sandwiches. “Nana is as weak as a cat, children. We have to be very quiet.”
Jane held the flowers and Dylan’s grass clump. Pointing at Jane, Dylan exclaimed, “We got pwesents for you.”
“How thoughtful, you are,” Gramp replied, patting his grandchildren.
Elizabeth found a vase for the flowers and a plate for the grass. Jane crept upstairs and climbed into bed with Nana. She took Nana’s hand as she slept. Looking in a minute later, Elizabeth loved seeing her little girl so close to her mother. She put the vase on the night table. She sat on the edge of the bed, looking tenderly at the beautiful frail face she knew so well. Nana still had a bit of a tan on her cheeks. Dylan slid out of Gramps’ arms and climbed on the bed too.
Nana stirred a bit. She opened her eyes. As she took in the scene, she smiled. “How lovely this is, having my dears so close to me. Thank you for coming to see us.”
“We have sandwiches and a chocolate bar,” Jane said, with her eyes glued to Nana. “We can eat in bed,” said Dylan.
Nana, gingerly sat up. “You’re getting better, Nana!” Jane was so happy.
“I think I am.” Nana said quietly.
“Want your chocolate bar, Nana?” Dylan asked.
“Darlings, you are too kind. It will be perfect for our dessert. You know, I’m really looking forward to that sandwich.”
Gramp turned and with a sudden bit of speed, followed Elizabeth down to the kitchen. They put the sandwiches on a big oval plate, the one with the blue stripe. Carrying water, cups and yellow napkins, they started back up. On the landing, they stopped and smiled at each other.
“Thank you, Elizabeth for all you do for me.”
“Oh Daddy, you’re so welcome. Thank you for marrying the best mother in the world.”
“It was the luckiest day of my life, too, Elizabeth.”
Happy and tender hearts helping the weak heart to mend may seem impossible. Not always. Miracles really do happen. Can wanting something so much make what seemed so unlikely possible? Jane and Dylan’s full and innocent hearts were able to express and give back the love they had been shown. Elizabeth had made her children feel loved since they were born. Her parents had done it for Elizabeth all her life. Heartache brought this family even closer and made each of their hearts little compasses, guiding them in the gentlest directions. When sad days do arrive, this family will not be completely prepared, but their hearts and memories will soothe them. Life will go on.
Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 35+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
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