My grandson and I write letters back and forth to each other. We write a series of letters in a book, which we then put in the mail. The book arrives after Canada Post has taken the longest possible route to deliver it. Like a game of tag, you’re it is tucked inside the envelope. I often write him letters in my head when I’m drifting off to sleep at night. I like to think the messages become airborne, released from my sleeping brain to catch the prevailing wind, to circle the planet, to eventually come to rest on him, that he might know that I was thinking of him, dreaming of our walks to school when he held my hand. He didn’t hold my hand every walk to school when I was with him because Linden is not always a morning person. Like his mother, it takes a few hours to become himself in the full meaning of his being. But the mornings his mittened hand found mine, I was airlifted, floating just above the ground, my winter boots hardly touching the sidewalk. The thing is, what you know as a grandmother and don’t know as a mother, is that it passes so very quickly, too quickly, and hand holding can vanish as swiftly as finger painting and loose teeth and learning to ride a bike and being tucked into bed at night, everything solved by a moment on your knee.
In our letters, we share what we’ve been up to, what we are thinking, and what we are happy about and sometimes we write about what makes us sad. Everything is allowed and I try to slip him the wee bits of wisdom I have acquired from my small but valuable life. I repeat the valuable part of that sentence over in my head, hoping one day it will stick.
I watched my favourite movie last night in hopes of calming my cough. I won’t bore you with the details of the cough. Sigh. The movie is About Time. I’ve written about this movie before. I’ve watched it no less than a dozen times and that is probably a serious under-estimation. It is the ticket to open the door to contentment and all being well with the world. Though temporary, it is a guaranteed remedy for everything that troubles me. It is that kind of movie, that makes me a bit better after I’ve watched it, a little more dialled in to being the best version of myself. And, like always … it got me thinking.
The thing about art, in whatever form it happens to be, is its power to change us, to move us, to inspire us, to educate us. And we find ourselves saying that it was that kind of movie, or that kind of book, or that kind of song, or that kind of day, that changed us, just a little, made us better than we were before we watched, or read, or listened. It isn’t the same movie or the same book or the same song for everyone. That’s why art comes in so many different containers, with so many different combinations of colour, and notes, and words.
In my favourite movie, at its end, when I’m just breathing slowly and savouring the lessons and the wisdom, Tim walks his five-year-old daughter Posy to school. Posy goes toward the door and turns the corner and disappears. Tim waits. She pops out waving at him, knowing he’d still be there. She disappears again. He waits. The sequence is repeated and then she is gone, all the children heading indoors. But still, he waits and counts to some number in his head, until he’s certain. Then he goes.
I walk Linden to school when I am visiting him, a walk that feels uphill both ways some days. We say our goodbyes at the foot of the concrete steps that lead to the level of the school yard. He marches off, lost in his own thoughts, perhaps contemplating what is in his lunch, or who he will play with that day. I wait. He keeps walking and disappears around the hedge. I wait some more. Children and families brush by me, and still I wait. Because just once, he might come back to check and I’ll be there still, waiting. I’ll wave and my wave will say to him … have the very best of all days.
When the bell has rung, I turn and walk home. I never want to miss the opportunity, that chance to be there when he looks back. Not ever.