My granddaughter is talking to me on FaceTime. I’m so pleased that she calls and is willing to share with me. But sometimes it feels like she is still the one-year old baby handing grandma a soggy corner of her cookie that I can’t refuse and have to pretend to eat. See, she is upset over Covid isolation and the enforced solitary confinement she faces. ‘They,’ ‘somebody,’ ‘the government’ is depriving her of an essential and irreplaceable part of her young life. She’s missing out on graduation, prom, the final track meet and all the processing with her best friends about boys, over burgers.
I try to listen and absorb and acknowledge without offering advice. It’s hard. Because she hasn’t been constrained, yet. And well she shouldn’t be, after all. She’s just a young woman whose body hasn’t been hijacked by pregnancy for a year at a time. Can’t tell her that. She has to go through it herself. Maybe more than once.
And as she moans and whines, I remember the time my girlfriend Inga and I went to visit her Danish grandparents on their farm. We got stuck there in a blizzard. For three days. At first, I was frantic, felt trapped. Then her grandmother lit candles. Got out blankets and warm wool socks and hot cocoa and a big fire in the fireplace and we snuggled in. Her grandmother called all this hygge (hoo-guh). And I got the feeling that the word meant cozy, getting cozy. Like the way it feels so good to hunker down in a warm dry house in a pounding rain storm.
Or maybe like my Italian grandfather did one lazy summer day when he sprawled out on his postage stamp lawn, pants rolled to his knees, socks down to his shoes—his idea of sunbathing. He puffed on his Chesterfield cigarette, eyes closed but not sleeping. When I asked him what he was doing, he replied, ‘dolce far niente.’ It wasn’t until I took Italian in college that I figured out the words but I got the sense of it right then…to sweetly do nothing.
But how can I tell her all that. She would just say, “That’s easy for you to say…you’re old. What have you got to do that’s exciting anyway.” But she won’t because…well, because. And she has her whole life to learn that sometimes less is more.
Retired trainer, and writing instructor, Joe Novara and his wife live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Writings include novels, short stories, a memoir and various poems, plays, anthologies and articles. Read more at https://freefloatingstories.wordpress.com/