cleaning green beans.

I slept poorly last night.

I did all the things that should dictate that I would have a good night’s sleep. I wore my C-PAP machine. I went to bed early, around 9:00 PM. I sleep in a dark room. I have two fans, providing a copious amount of white noise. The dogs were curled up next to me, like little weighted blankets or stuffed animals. I didn’t take melatonin or Ambien or any other meds, I simply drifted off. I slept almost solidly, with very brief wake-ups, until my alarm went off at 4:45 AM. No getting up, no tossing and turning.

I’m sitting here, could practically fall asleep on my desk this morning. I don’t feel bad, but I am tired.

I dreamed of my grandmother – Maw-Maw – this morning.

It wasn’t a bad dream. I was at my grandparents’ house, sitting with her on the swing outside, watching as she cleaned green beans picked from the garden. She was smoking, as always, and humming a little song, as always. She didn’t say anything, she just sat, and cleaned, and smoked, and hummed. But she knew I was there. I was the age I am now, and we were just sitting. I watched her. She was built like me, round and thick, wide arms, short hair, round belly. She had her glasses on. She was always so much more tan than me, but that came from being outside all the time – feeding chickens, cleaning the above ground pool in the backyard, picking things from the garden and the blackberries in the woods out back, feeding the cats and the dogs and the kids, swimming in the pool outside. She would slather me in sunscreen when we went outside, preaching about how I didn’t want to get a sunburn, but she was always so tan.

I said something to her in the dream – I don’t remember what it was now. She laughed, and the fact that I got her to laugh made me laugh too. She still didn’t look at me, she was focused on those beans, but she smiled, and she laughed, and the little wrinkles on the sides of her eyes moved, and I was happy to see her happy. I wondered what she thought of me now, what she would say if she could see me in my late 40s, with my tattoos and piercings and purple hair, back in school, working a good job, married to a good person. I wondered what she would think of my brother, getting ready to have his first child. But I didn’t ask, I just watched her clean the beans.

The big tree that she had in that yard – an oak, maybe? – swayed above us in a light wind, providing shade to us on that swing. Her big blue car that she never drove anywhere sat in the driveway. The propane tank, gray and streaked with rust, sat across the yard surrounded by overgrowth – Paw-Paw was gonna have to trim it back soon, but he wasn’t home yet. The above-ground pool was bright blue in the afternoon sunlight. It was summer, because the school bus that she drove wasn’t there in the yard.

She just sat there, smoking, humming, cleaning green beans.

My alarm buzzed and woke me up, pulling me out of her yard, out of the dappled sunlight on the ground, out of the creak of the swing as we moved back and forth, out of the rustle of leaves around us.

I’m tired because I just spent an entire afternoon with my Maw-Maw, who passed away in 2007, right after I returned from a 2-week trip to the UK. I’m tired because I woke up and the contentment I felt in that dream was gone. I’m tired because I miss her, deeply, even after all these years. I’m tired because I want to cry for the loss, but the dream was so calm and serene that I can’t bring myself to.

I love you, Maw-Maw. I miss you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *