“Okay.” I held her delicate hand in mine.
“I will be having surgery in the morning and there is something I want to remind my family of. You must promise to tell them should anything happen to me.” I could see the need in her eyes and felt her grip strengthen on my hand. “Promise.”
“About a year ago, my two sons, their wives, and children all hit upon hard times: lost their jobs, then their homes, and eventually moved home to live with me.” She smiled.
“I only have a small three bedroom house and many of my neighbors commented, ‘How do you live like that?’ I tell them about the funny times at the dinner table when we are all together and yes, even the times when you need a bathroom, but someone is in there reading a magazine or combing their hair. There are those hard times, but there are also times of laughter and fun when we all cook outside together, or gather in the evening in my overcrowded living room to watch a movie.
“Most recently, my children were able to secure jobs and together they decided we should go looking for a bigger home in which all of us could live. On one of these recent trips, I was in the back seat of the car with my six year old grandson, Jake. We had just seen this wonderful house by the river. The residence itself was large, but behind it was located a two bedroom cottage which served as a guest house. The kids were thrilled. ‘That can be your place, Grandma!’ It was a most exciting thought I must assure you.”
Her eyes glittered in the dark.
“That sounds wonderful. Did you all make an offer?”
“Not yet.” She squeezed my hand. “Jake was riding next to me and his mother who was driving said, ‘isn’t it wonderful? Grandma can have her own house and you can visit her all the time.’”
I looked down at Jake. “She’s right, Jakey, and one day when the number of my days is done, you and your family can live in my little house.”
“Jake squinched up his eyebrows, and asked in his most serious tone of voice. ‘Grandma, the number of your days is not up yet, is it?’ I told him only God knows the number of our days.
“He did the funniest thing. He raised his hand up as if talking on the phone and asked, ‘God, what is the number of Grandma’s days?’ Then he sat straight up and silent as if listening intently, then took his hand from his ear and leaned into me, hugged me and said, ‘Grandma, God says the number of your days is not yet.’ That statement stuck with me. I want you to tell my family tomorrow, should I not return from surgery, that on my tombstone I don’t want the dates of my birth and death, I want the words, THE NUMBER OF HER DAYS WERE and the number of days I lived on this earth. I want my family to know that I wouldn’t trade one moment, good or bad. Every day of my life mattered, and every day of theirs matters to me.”
I released her hand and wiped away the tears from my face as they trickled down. “I promise. I will tell them, but if you are okay; you must tell them.”
Her words affected me profoundly. What markers in our lives will be remembered? In “The Glider”, available on Kindle, a husband remembers his wife and the highs and lows of their life together, i.e. learning they were having their first baby and then later learning he had cancer. They faced it together while weaving a tapestry of love and home. Will you?