My mother said I was an “old soul” I was her “happy-go-lucky” child. Somewhere as a child it was twisted in my mind that I was supposed to make her happy.
Abe Lincoln, said “Most people are as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Which I have taken to mean, contentment.
Last week I heard my grandson say his first word to me over the phone. His dad had called and put the phone to his 16- month-old ear and prompted: “Say: Happy Birthday” and the baby’s response was “HAPPY” and when he couldn’t form the word birthday, he said: “Happy! Happy!” Then there was the looking at the voice coming from the phone and a ‘no don’t push that button’ then my son and I chatted for a while.
Happy. I heard it in my mind all day. The saying of the word making him happy. The pull on my being into the phone lines, the cell towers, imagining him just four months older than my last visit. Scrolling photos of him:Happy. Out! Up? Brrrrrrrred. Mermomater, words he says, his squeals and babble. The sound of his shoes running on hardwood floors.
‘Happy’ something held inside me, kept safe as if I actually felt it for more than moments at a time, it would be a flash flood I will not survive. It will flash and go and be gone leaving me entirely. This is how it’s been more than a few times.
So the BP cuff strangles my arm and concern for the low numbers darkens eyes, niches brows, face after face. “Yes that’s my original normal” I say to the doc or PA or tech. . . and then they stick me and draw blood. Or they stick me and put fluids drip. I fade away.
When I sleep they do a procedure called an EDG. And I wake up, slowly aware my belly hurts and I sleep and wake and they say, get dressed as they pull the IV. Happy, I should be happy this is done. The give me pictures of my insides.
The doc took biopsies. Took some tiny slice of me out. I am a lab rat. He is thorough and kind and efficient. He was gentle to my pancreas.
I don’t feel things here. Not now. I rely on my husband’s hand no matter how tired he is. We eat. We drink coffee. I read. I walk. We wait for the other doc. Happy. This doc is happy I am doing so well. He’s a sweetie.
On the ride home we drive through gully-washing down pours and hail. I try sleep. But I’m a clogged mess of medicines and emotions. I plan my weekend that will keep me from dwelling on the call from the lab that will come on Monday.
On the way home I plan to mail the gifts for Boston and Jacksonville. I remember how delighted I was as a girl when Uncle Jimmy would call on St. Patrick’s Day, he’d start the call with “Who’s this?” gruff and funny. And in this memory I realize I how I can be the long-distance grandmother: small and consistent conversations, little things to show him: I think of you ever day. There’s this place in my mind and body that is only for you.
Happy, endorphins release, something like a mixed-bag sunset shines in my being. Something I have looked for, hoped would make it’s presence known to me that is more than contentment and I didn’t make up my mind to feel it. I’ve waited.
The last time I remember feeling sustainably happy just to be alive, August 19, 2008. In between then and now are meaningful challenges and periods of contentment. Times of rough patches.
Happy. Happy. . .Ok my grand boy, for you.