I am standing in my grandmother’s kitchen when I tell her the news. The husband has accepted a job offer in Wisconsin and will be leaving next month, just before Thanksgiving. I will stay behind for the next six months, so that the boys can finish the school year and so that I can sell the house. At almost forty years old I am leaving “home” for the first time and taking her great-grandchildren with me.
It’s late Sunday afternoon and we’ve just finished dinner. There is macaroni stained with gravy and bits of meatball and sausage left in the giant bowl on the dining room table–enough for her to eat for lunch tomorrow. I carefully slide the contents along with the extra gravy into one of the smaller serving pieces from her china set, the last gift her mother had given her. I trace the tiny blue flower pattern with my finger as painted petals begin to blur from small tears gathering in my eyes. I grab what’s left of the garlic bread and grate it into a small teacup. I wrap everything in clear wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Tomorrow she’ll toast the breadcrumbs before adding them to her leftovers.
In the pot where the gravy had been cooking all day, there is now the ring of condensed tomato that every Sunday since I was a little girl, she’d leave for me to wipe out with the heel of Italian bread. It’s time to tell her. My stomach tells me this hungry childhood ritual will not happen tonight.
I gather the last of the dinner dishes from the table and join her in the kitchen where she is leaning over the sink, rinsing soapy dishes. The steam rises up and swirls with the cool October air coming in from the window above moving the blonde-white curl on her forehead.
“Ben accepted the job offer, Grandma,” these words ooze thick like cough syrup from my mouth. “We’re moving this spring.”
She keeps her head down over the sink. Turns off the water. Wipes her hands on the front of her house coat then turns to me and wraps her arms around me. At once I am enveloped in a cocktail of her scent invoking a lifetime of memories–White Rain hairspray, garlic, Palmolive dish soap. I am no longer in control of the sudden rain storm rolling in all over my face.
She rests her head in my neck and sighs, “Let’s wait and see what’s what.”
In an instant I feel as if I am an open sore whose bandage has just fallen to the tile floor. Hard to look at now, I can’t stop bleeding. And there is so much to do in the months ahead.