I felt Gramma Bonny reach for her tea on the table in front of us and winced when I heard the clatter and splash, and my sweet Gramma saying “shit” under her breath like she never would have done before.
I sighed, rising to go find a towel to clean it up before she tried to do it herself.
“I can do it myself, Joanna,” she snapped at me. “I’m perfectly capable of cleaning up my own messes.”
“I know, Gramma,” I said, “I’m already up, I got it.”
I shuffled into the kitchen, hands on counters, reaching blindly with my fingers until I found the towel that always hung from the stove handle - not a safe place to leave a towel anymore.
“I don’t need you to stay with me,” Gramma Bonny said as I shuffled back into the living room, banging my shin on the stupid ottoman I kept forgetting about when I tried to map out the memory of my grandma’s house in my mind.
“I would have been all alone in the house, I told you that, Gramma. Mom and dad never came home from work.”
“Well, how could they? Have you missed the last five hundred news broadcasts?”
I rolled my eyes, not like it mattered anymore, and sat back down next to Gramma, reaching forward to blot up her hot tea, doing the best I could.
We didn’t bother with the television anymore. Gramma Bonny preferred the company of the radio, something about it being a throwback to her better days, when the news and entertainment came over the radio waves and not from ‘that box that made fools of us all.’
“Thank you dear,” Gramma Bonny said after I had sat back on the loveseat, done with her mess.
She reached out and I felt her old, bony hand crawling up my leg, looking for my hand to hold. I grasped hers in mine, the thin paper of her skin rough against my own.
“What are we going to do, Gramma?”
“We’ll be just fine,” she said, giving my hand a squeeze.
I could almost see that smile spreading across her face. No matter what was wrong, she knew she could get through it. She was born in the depression and had grown up poor. That, she said, prepared you for everything.
“How are we going to get groceries, walk five miles to the store? We’ll be out of food soon.”
“We have plenty of food, child.”
“We really don’t.”
There it was.
It was always God with Gramma Bonny, too.
God and poverty: put the two together, and you have the recipe for resilience.
Voices droned on the radio. I didn’t want to listen to them anymore.
Gramma had already been going blind and deaf, and the volume was up so high I swore I could hear chatter in the background, other people in the radio station having conversations over the broadcast, or maybe that was just my imagination going wild.
In the constant darkness, colors swirled.
Fractals and tunnels, spirals and occasional bright flashes of light.
When my eyes were opened it was all I saw, when my eyes were closed, I saw them even brighter - the glory of whatever I had left.
I turned my head to the left, away from Gramma, toward the window I knew was there.
Outside the window was there was a road that led away from Gramma’s and into town, where I lived with my parents until the day they didn’t come home, until the day things started going blurry around the edges.
Maybe it was cloudy, maybe the sun was shining so brightly I would have wanted sunglasses.
Maybe if I knew any better, I would I run outside, away from Gramma’s, and never come back.
“I don’t think God delivers groceries, Gramma Bonny,” I said.
She squeezed my hand again and clicked her tongue.
“Look what God is capable of doing.”
“I can’t look, Gramma, that’s the point.”
“Well, then I rest my case, dearie.”