When I went to visit my grandmother at the nursing home yesterday, I packed a little cooler bag with my lunch, thinking it might be nice to eat with her. I just threw some random stuff in the bag as I ran out the door — yogurt and water, an apple and a cheese stick. Much healthier than my normal lunch, truth be told.
I got to her room, parked myself on the edge of her bed and took out my blueberry yogurt, and as I sat there, stirring up the blue-purple concoction, a memory came flooding back like a tidal wave.
When I was young, maybe 4 years old, my grandmother would watch me while my mother worked part-time. I would go with her to her job as a cashier at the Food Fair in Pearl River, over in the same parking lot where the old L.H. Martin used to be, in what would eventually become Pearl River Lanes. And I would sit on the ledge at the front of the store, against the plate glass window, swinging my legs and watching as my grandmother rang up customers and bagged their groceries. (Maybe that’s why I’ve always said I could be a champion bagger.)
During E-ma’s breaks, I’d go with her to the break room and eat a snack — often blueberry yogurt, sometimes cottage cheese with pineapple, both still favorites of mine. Now I realize it’s because of the taste of the memories more than the taste of the food.
As I sat on the bed, my legs hanging over the side in much the same way they did when I was a little girl sitting on that ledge, I looked over at my grandmother and thought about how strange and wonderful it is that something as basic and uninteresting as yogurt could give me that gift, that memory of being so little and being with her. And I thought about how much time I spent with her throughout my childhood, not just in that store, but at her house and our house, and not just as a little girl but right up through my teenage years and young adulthood. She was ever-present in my life growing up. In my adult life I haven’t been so lucky. I’ve lived too far away to have those kinds of moments. But today, for the briefest time, I was back there.
We have come full circle, my grandmother and I. I’m now close to the age she was when she babysat for me and she is closing in on 101, the two of us bound together forever by time and love and blueberry yogurt.