When we first moved to this place, I saw lights on in the house next door. “Oh! My grandma’s up. I’ll go and say hi…” My heart leapt excitedly until I realized that she’d been gone for years, and that house now belonged to a charming couple somewhere near my parents’ age.

Intellectually, of course I knew that. Of course I did. But somehow, emotionally I still anticipated stepping inside the warm foyer, roasted pork emanating from the walls, the muffled voice of the TV stemming from her upstairs room.

More than once I’d had to rip my eyes from that window, reminding myself that I was in this here and now. I missed her so much.

I found myself clinging to the stories that Cap told about his Baba. How Baba, now 96 would walk to the daily market. How she made the best perogies and puffed wheat cakes and cookies.

Recently Vee had been asking him for ‘Baba stories’ every night. Stories about her beautiful garden and her epic scoldings when he was little. Stories that made us feel her warmth; made us feel enveloped in her customs and history and love.

We were so excited to meet this lady and we were planning to do just that. And then out of no where, my sweet Cap looked at us with red-rimmed eyes and a kind of finality that broke my heart.

Baba, a veritable tank of longevity and source of what seemed immortal to us all, passed suddenly.

I held my Cap as he wept, and helped him pack for the trip home.

I know he’ll write about it. I hope he does one day when he’s ready.

It’s not my story to tell even though she was the loveliest lady I never met. And we were all so proud to have her as a baba, and great-baba.

In my heart I see her a table with both of my grandmas. They’re smiling and trading recipes and going to work in some kind of ever-equipped celestial kitchen where the table is always set, and there’s always time for another story and another cup of coffee.

As Vee said to me:
“Baba was my friend even though we never met. She’s my great grandma. And she’ll make Harrison sit on a log if he’s naughty. Just like Heath. But then everyone will get treats… I didn’t want Baba to go, Mommy.”
“Me neither, baby.”
“Mommy…There will always be peas to steal from Baba’s garden, right?”
“Yes, baby.”

Mantra: Breathe every memory with love.