Posted on | March 31, 2011 | 15 Comments
J didn’t sleep well last night and neither did I. Granted, Husband took care of J all night, but I kept waking up hearing either J crying or weird sounds from my dreams. At one point, I was convinced I heard a woman screaming as though she were being attacked. I jumped out of bed and looked outside. Clearly, I was not fully awake because at first glance, I thought a boat was out on the lake by our house and a cow was standing in the water. Honestly. A cow. Turns out it was the reflection of the cars on the water. And I never saw a woman.
So this morning, things were running a little slowly. Husband wanted to sleep a little longer because he’d been up late with a crying J, and I wanted to sleep longer because, well… I had weird dreams. One of us had to get up and since I felt like taking care of J trumped bad dreams, I drew the short straw. Only as it turned out, it wasn’t a short straw after all. I got up and took a shower while J played in the bathroom and then got both of us dressed and ready to head out. Because we were actually running ahead of schedule (due to my inability to handle a hair dryer and decision to go with a low, wet, “bun” on the back of my head), I decided we’d grab breakfast on the way to school and then I could get to work super early.
We set out for school/work and I stopped for gas on the island. There, across from the gas station, were two choices… McDonalds and Sunrise cafe. You know what McDonald’s is, and so did I. But Sunrise, with it’s little neon OPEN light, and it’s battered old sign seemed to hold a lost charm. I made an executive decision to give up the dream of getting to work early and to try Sunrise.
When I was a very small girl, my sister and I would go visit my Grandparents in Tarboro, North Carolina. There isn’t much there now but there was even less then. But almost every day, we would beg my Granddaddy to take us to this little diner called The Suburban. There, we would perch on the high barstools next to my Grandfather, who was, by all accounts, larger than life, and watch as our food was cooked right there in front of us. It was a special time that we shared with Granddaddy, just Amy and me, and almost never my brother, my mother or father or even my Grandmother. We loved those mornings and/or afternoons with Granddaddy at the Suburban.
He would say words he couldn’t get away with saying at home. He would laugh his big boisterous laugh. He would introduce us to everyone who came in as “His Grandbabies” no matter how old we were… and it never embarrassed us. There are days when I long for The Suburban and the feeling of being sandwiched between my sister and my grandfather, a thick hamburger waiting to be enjoyed, and the sound of The Greatest Generation chattering around me. There are days when I long to just be in the presence of a man who loved so big that you couldn’t be around him without feeling the reverberations of his heart.
This morning, when I walked into Sunrise, those memories came flooding back. The bell on the door dinged as we pushed in. The room was full of the sounds of forks against plates and the sizzle of food on a grill. I pulled up a high chair and J and I sat down at one of the linoleum tables. We ordered from the plastic menu, and we watched as they cooked our breakfast to order on the long, stretch of a grill. My son entertained the restaurant by announcing “MMMMMM!” after each bite and dipping his toast in his grits like a good, Southern boy. I sipped on hot coffee from a worn mug stained brown with years of use, but didn’t mind one bit. It was the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time.
As we stood to leave, J said bye to anyone who would listen. He thanked the cook, the waitstaff, and the cashier and then we were out the door. I stood there on the sidewalk, gripping the hand of my little boy… a little boy my grandfather never got to meet… a little boy my grandfather would have adored… and I missed my Granddaddy. But I also was so thankful for the memories I have of him, and for discovering that I can pass on those memories on to my own children. I can be larger than life. I can take my son to breakfast in an old diner. I can tell him about where and who he comes from. I can make memories with J that would make my grandfather proud.
If I’d hurried past Sunrise without a second glance, if I’d opted for McDonald’s and an earlier arrival at the office, if I’d just placed a waffle in the toaster before we left the house… I would have missed the opportunity to create a memory with my son. I would have missed the opportunity to bask in the legacy of my grandfather. I would have missed putting a smile on my face, even though I can taste the tears, stored up from his passing.
Sometimes it’s just so easy to believe that there is someone up there, watching, loving, and directing us to the precise place we are supposed to be at the precise moment we need to be there.