As I lay in the dark with the sound of ocean waves crashing in my ears from my sleepbuds, I thought, what could it hurt? In my head, I said, “so God, what’s your plan here?” I haven’t talked to God in years, I’m not usually a fan, but earlier in the evening, I got a text that said, “it’s back, but in her lung,” and so, I felt like I needed some answers. If you read my blog, you know God and I have a strained relationship at best and no relationship at worst, but this seemed like a time to see if she was listening.
So, I asked my question, and I instantly had an image of my grandfather pop into my head. When I was one or two years old, my grandfather had a stroke that paralyzed him on the right side of his body. He would often sit where all the action was and with me coming from a large Italian family, that action was always in one of two places, the kitchen or the dining room table. My Grandfather would sit in his chair and just smile, sneak me candy when my mother wasn’t looking, or he would just want you to talk to him. When I was older, and I would ask him a question, he would sit in his chair, shrug his shoulders, raise his left hand, and say, “I don’t know,” in his voice that was deep but he had trouble speaking. That was the exact image that popped into my head when I asked God what the plan was, it was as clear as if I was standing in that small kitchen on Long Island with my grandfather, and in the dark, I could feel a tear streaming down my cheek.
My grandfather was larger than life. When my mother was little, he was a longshoreman in Northport, New York, where he would load and unload different ships. As my mother and her sisters got older, my Grandfather became a wallpaper hanger supporting his family and bringing color and beauty into people’s houses including my childhood home. There are stories that when my grandfather had his stroke, my tiny five-foot-tall grandmother would somehow get him up on the dining room table and, with no training at all, be his physical therapist. I remember having Sunday dinners at that very table and wondering how on earth they managed to get him up on that table. Eventually, my grandfather, no doubt because of my grandmother, would be able to drive a car to OTB (Off Track Betting) and on Sundays to church. Both religiously and never missing a Sunday or a week at OTB.
As I lay in bed, in the dark, I had my eyes closed, wishing I was little again, standing in my grandparent’s kitchen, smelling the sauce cooking and the meatballs frying, eating the illicit candy my grandfather handed me under the table. Everything always seemed better at my grandparent’s house. In the alternative, I wished I could be physically standing by the waves that were crashing in my ears, compliments of Bose Sleepbuds; everything seems better by the sea. I reached out and felt my sleeping husband’s hand, and I just squeezed it tight; everything is also better when I am lying next to my husband. But nothing, not one of those three things, made me feel better.
I don’t know the plan because it’s not my plan. It is not my journey. What I do know is that I, like my sisters and brother, come from strong stock. You just need to look at my grandmother and grandfather and know that is true. So I am going to keep that image of my grandfather in my head, keep the sound of the waves crashing in my ears, and hope that God figures things out, comes up with a plan that consists of something more than “I don’t know.”