When my godmother died I really missed her. That was more than a year ago and I’m still right there in that place. I really still miss her. I still want her to show up.
Darlin was a classic. She was a spark. She had a shock of white hair on her head that was stylish before going gray became stylish. She was beautiful. She always dressed to the nines, wore the best shoes, and taught me that Aerosoles, while a comfortable shoe, could actually also look classy. She had more than 40 years on me but usually looked as good if not better than I did–because she always dressed the part. Always.
One of my lasting memories of Darlin is her pulling around the corner in her gray/brown Toyota Corolla. I remember that like it’s my own reflection: that poof of hair, those big Audrey Hepburn sunglasses, gripping that steering wheel and waving to me as she drove off to her hairdresser, the manicure place, her adult education classes or her volunteer job at the high school. Well into her 80’s, Darlin still did it all.
When she died in 2011, all that went away. And while I had her in my life for all of my years–she was my next door neighbor so I grew up with her, literally–and I should have been more grateful than anything to have enjoyed such a treasure and for so long, I admit to being crushed. I wanted Darlin back–I still do. And all those memories, that clothing, that hair, that way of dressing to the 9’s and seeing that car drive-by…I still wish she’d show up.
Recently Darlin’s grandson moved nearby to me. Now we see him often. And we love him. Ryan is an extension of his grandmother, a familiar face because his features and mannerisms flow from a DNA swirl that include Darlin’s very own double-helix strands. And because his childhood visits to Darlin happened in the yard next-door to mine, I saw Ryan-the-toddler a lot. Now, he’s a fine young man and I find I share an emotional connection with him that maybe is due to Darlin and maybe it’s due to Ryan. But whatever it is, I like it.
So I was thrilled when Ryan moved near by. We began to invite him over to Sunday dinners. I looked forward to him arriving that first Sunday, to get to know him as an adult but also to be near the memory of that tremendous person that due to his bloodline Ryan represents for me–my godmother. And though I knew his 23-year-old self would not be sporting gray hair, Audrey Hepburn glasses nor an easy-walking pair of pump heels with a matching outfit, I knew Ryan would naturally bring a part of the spirit of my godmother back into my life and into my home–I couldn’t wait to see him.
But when he pulled up–parking his vehicle in front of my home now thousands of miles away from the neighborhood I once shared with Darlin–I was struck dumb. He jumped out of the car and gave me a bright smile: “Hi Ann!” But it wasn’t his smile that got me–it was the car he was driving…
it was Darlin’s. Unbeknownst to me, he’d gotten her car after she’d passed away. It was the same one I’d seen daily for years out the window of my parent’s home–that steering wheel she’d wave to me from as she buzzed off to whatever adventure she was to find that day.
Tears welled up but I fought them off. For Heaven’s Sake, Ann, the kid will think you’re insane! But as I hugged Ryan and welcomed him into my house, my home and my own family’s world, I looked over his shoulder at the gray/brown Corolla staring back at me and sent a silent shout out to Darlin:
I knew you’d show up.