A Visit With Mom-Mom

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I visited my grandmother today…
her birthday is tomorrow,
she’ll be 94 years old.
She had a stroke in November,
and her mind doesn’t compute
like it used to.
It touched me deeply
to see her there in the nursing home,
asleep when I arrived,
her mouth slightly open,
with her hospital gown
falling off of her shoulders.
Her face lit up when she saw me,
and I presented her with a tiny poinsettia
and a home made birthday card.
I brought a small Blue Tooth speaker
and played her some Christmas music
like what she would hear in church
if she could still go.
As I hummed along with
O Come Emmanuel,
I felt the tears well up.
I first heard the song
in her church when I was a child.
Because my parents weren’t churchgoers,
she felt it was her duty
to bring some religion into
the lives of me and my sisters–
and so every time
we spent the night at Mom-Mom’s
she would take us to mass the next morning.
I was never baptized,
but I didn’t need to be baptized
to understand the sense of belonging,
how soothing the ritual can be,
how strong the community.
We attended a few Christmas Eve masses.
As I child I thought mass was boring
but I appreciated the music
and the beautiful stained glass windows.
As I got older I came to look forward
to the times I sat with Mom-Mom
in the beautifully polished oak pews.
Today I looked at my Mom-Mom,
so small and frail,
and felt grateful for the love
she showed our family.
I was moved thinking
I would probably never see her
kneeling in her church again,
hand to her forehead,
holding her rosary,
eyes closed.
This life is so precious
and so short
and our loved ones
are changing all the time.
Hold them, kiss them,
love them with your whole heart.
Life slips through our hands
like grains of sand…
here in this moment,
gone in the next.

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