Things I Am Learning From My Grandma Part 13Nicole Shabtai

I am sitting in 15F and have already polished off all of my plane snacks. I housed the last of them, a giant “Birthday Cake” flavored cookie, just before take-off. It was a real challenge not to stick my face in the packaging and gather the rogue sprinkles. For the next six hours, I will try to abstain from any further stress eating. However, Jet Blue has those MUNCHIES® snacks and I already had one and I just quit smoking and leave me alone. As elegant and sexy as I have made myself sound, you will be surprised to learn that I am not en route to Paris for Fashion Week. I am on my way back to California from my native New York.

I was only in town for a few short days. As soon as I arrived, I went straight to my Grandma’s. She’s had a challenging couple of weeks. I stop in front of her house and take it in. The humidity on this late September day is oppressive. It is going to rain. There is a breeze coming off the ocean in the foggy distance. This is a moment. I try to be in it. I take a mental photo and store it for later. Then, I wonder if Grandma has any tuna fish from that amazing deli.

She is wearing coral. Her skin is soft and thin. She smells like a baby and gardenias. Her radiance is matched by her beauty, which even still, shines through the pain she might feel. Her nails are perfectly manicured in a glossy, soft pink lacquer. I stay for a while, but she is tired today. I tell her I will come back.  “I am glad you are moving back to New York,” she tells me. I smile.

Wait. What? I have no foreseeable plans to move back to New York. “It makes her happy. What is the difference?” My mom says to me. Ooof. It doesn’t sit right with me. This is the kind of lie that sends me into a tailspin of stress eating. It makes me feel guilty and awful, but maybe I just need to relax. I ask my friends what they think. “My Grandma thinks I am getting married. She’s very excited,” one of my best friends, who is not getting married, tells me.

LESSON: Smile.

Sometimes, the only thing you can do is smile. You don’t have to engage. Smiling is the best response in many situations. I am not advocating becoming some kind of monster who is totally full of s**t. However, through a smile, you can simply communicate love in a non-verbal way.

“I am so happy you are coming back,” my Grandma says this afternoon. I am about to leave her house for the airport. Over the next couple of weeks, I will make the journey from California to New York and back again at least twice more. I feel exhausted and full just thinking about it, but I also feel incredibly grateful. So it’s true. I am coming back. However, when my Grandma says, “I am so happy you are coming back,” she means for good. It’s a misunderstanding that I would rather not correct. So when she smiles, I smile back. I just smile.

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  1. That was beautiful…my great-grandma had dementia in the last years of her life…she thought that I was my mother…but considering that my mom is the most beautiful soul I know, I embraced it just as much as I embraced her.

  2. lame. where’s the depth? we need more pls.