I woke up yesterday morning with a sound in my ears, but I couldn’t immediately identify what it was.
- My family visited Kate and I this weekend: my brother, my mother, my stepfather, and my grandmother. My grandmother’s been treading a little more lightly on the planet recently – physically she’s far better than she was at Christmas, but mentally she’s retaining less and less. She’s just barely hanging onto the fact that Kate and I are engaged, despite an obvious and deep affection for Kate as “a keeper.”
We joke with my grandmother about wanting her to both remember the wedding as well as survive until it, and she laughs and jokes with us about it. Her spirits are, frankly, great. She’s not upset by losing her grip on recent memories, and her memories of the past still seem pretty sharp.
My grandmother, when she was younger, skiied avidly. Her favorite places to ski were the Dartmouth Ski Way and Wildcat. While driving her back to Exeter Saturday night, I asked her whether she’d ever seriously hurt herself skiing. She considered this. “No,” she said, “but I certainly had my fair share of falls. I loved it, though.”
My mother’s been calling my grandmother every morning for months now, occasionally waking her up. Once, last week, my grandmother answered the phone and asked my mother, “How did you know to call me way up here?” When my mother carefully asked her where exactly she was calling, my grandmother woke up further and said that she’d been dreaming about skiing, and that at the moment the phone rang, she’d been in a ski chalet at the top of a very tall mountain where she’d been skiing perfectly. When I asked my grandmother about this, she sighed. “You can ski so much better in dreams than you can in real life,” she said, and then we both fell silent as we drove west into a gorgeous harvest moon.
- Sabrina kept her folks awake for the first of many nights, Saturday night.
So the sound I woke to in my ears was hard to distinguish, and maybe it was both of these things – some of Sabrina’s first breaths in the world, or my grandmother skiing the slopes of her dreams. schuss, schuss, schuss.