She calls me Nana (as in nah-nah). From the outset I called her Little Darling. It just felt right, much more so than Nana. But she was my first granddaughter and I couldn’t wait for her to call me anything, so I chose an easy name and gave her the simplest way possible to pronounce it. Later I would talk to other grandmothers with cool names like Gigi (as in gee-gee) and Marbie (some sort of real name-pet name combo) and I knew I had made a strategic error. Theirs were so sweet and different; Nana is, well, it’s just basic. But there it is. I am Nah-nah.
“Nah-nah, it really sucks that we can’t come over,” this little four-and-one-half-year-old sage tells me,” and I could not agree more. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard her use the slang term “suck” and assume it’s because she is now cloistered at home with her two teen-aged brothers. They adore this little girl, the only female in the house other than their mom, and she is their most ardent fan in return.
In fact, they adore their mom (my oldest) too. It’s a long story but suffice it to say that theirs is a particularly sweet blended family and somehow I have reaped the benefits. I have gained a handsome, capable son-in-law, four grandchildren (the teens acquired at a young age, a la the blending), a newer boy babe a bit older than a year who is beyond delicious and their one-and-only daughter, my granddaughter, Little Miss Darling. And quite without anyone’s permission, she has grown. Suddenly she is older and wiser, slipping on the mantle of feminine charm and power as though she were born to it. No longer a baby or a toddler, she is now a little girl on the path to being every bit as substantial a woman as her mother and her two aunts. All of them my girls, my women, my tribe.
And little Miss has put her finger, as always, on the crux of the issue. It sucks that we cannot be with each other. We have all been “staying home” for six weeks? Eight weeks? I’m not sure anymore but it feels like a long time. We are all missing the human contact we have in general with others-when we shop, when we go outside, go to meetings and gatherings. Which is kind of weird when you think of it because how often do we grow annoyed at shoppers in front of us at the grocery store, irritated with too many people at the mall, too many cars on the road, gaggles of neighborhood kids walking down the middle of the street so cars cannot easily pass, beach-goers who throw their blankets down too close to us, when they have an entire beach (I mean acres of empty sand!) on which to find a spot?
Normally, it’s these human social behaviors that drive us crazy. For me, it has always been the grocery-line where I lose patience. Do NOT start putting your groceries on the conveyer belt before I have finished loading mine. Pandemic or not, wait your damn turn! It’s what I want to say but don’t. Soon that may change.
For my husband it’s beach behaviors. “Oh my God, they have an entire beach over there!” my husband fumes every single summer. “Why do they always have to crowd next to me!” Like so many men, even the good ones, my husband seems to think everything is pretty much about him. So I try to explain. “It’s not you, dear. You, me, the little beach arrangement we have going on here, is not what is drawing them. It’s just the deep-seated need for humans to congregate, to fill in the spaces, to group up and be a pack,” I tell him. It does little to make him feel better but it’s the truth. In the end we are dogs-pack animals- and right about now we are all missing our own personal pack.
Our Governor has extended the New York Pause to May 15. Ugh.
We are in a pickle with this pandemic. Until we can test the population en masse and/or find a vaccine, we really can’t go back to our pre-pandemic ways. We are going to have to shelter, practice social distancing and snuggle up to our loved ones over ZOOM. If we are healthy, have not lost a friend or loved one to this terrible disease, have food in the pantry and a roof over our heads, we know we have little to complain about. We see the loss, the growing food lines, the suffering and sacrifice others are going through in our stead and the only response should be deep gratitude. So we are grateful.
I am grateful. Today I will take my regular walk. Spring is now in full swing with daffodils, tulips, and fragrant hyacinth poking up through the earth, their soft ripe petals open to the sun. The trees have exploded in a riot of white, pink and purple flowers. And today is the first I’ve noticed that my lilacs are about to bloom. It is all just so exquisitely perfect.
Except for the thing that is anything but perfect. We cannot gather with the ones we love, to enjoy and celebrate it all. This, too shall pass. But for now, as Little Miss Darling has noted, it really sucks.