It’s taken me 89 years, two months, and 26 days to figure it out.
But Lord help me, I have figured out what no one told me all these living days.
I don’t blame the people in my early life. My grandmother’s folk (she had 14 siblings) spent their lives just surviving. The earlier generations didn’t have time to figure out what was real, because life was just too damned hard.
But we technocratic, soft-skinned, thin-skinned spoiled people of the 21st century – we have no excuse. We have toilets and warm showers and grocery stores packed with food. We have vehicles of all sizes and shapes to transport us anywhere; free education from 5 to 18 years; easy chairs to sit in and stare into our gas fireplaces just to ponder. No need to chop our wood and cook our meat on that fire. We just use it to warm our souls and ponder. Yes, to just think.
Not that thinking helped me figure it out. The opposite, really.
It was watching. Watching the other sides mingle and collide with us, tease and flirt with us, practically begging us to see See SEE! what’s really happening. To understand . . .
“Granny? Gran? Are you okay?”
My 32-year-old granddaughter, Patrice, thinks I’m going bonkers. She laughs though when I use that word: bonkers. She says my language is archaic. In fact, she thinks I’m archaic. I decide to tell her, now, the real story.
I open my mouth and whisper, because what I’m about to say is too damn important for my regular voice. Besides, I learned long ago that a soft voice attracts busy ears.
“What’s that, Gran?” Patrice bends close to my rocking chair, draping a soft blanket around my shoulders. “It’s too cold in here. Come down to the den with the rest of us.”
I grab Patrice’s blouse and pull her toward me, her hazel eyes widening with surprise.
“I need to tell you a secret first. It isn’t really a secret, it’s the truth, and it’s time for us to see it. To feel it. To understand it.”
Patrice steps away from me, her back straightening, shoulders stiffening. “Gran, you’re scaring me. Did you have enough water today? Are you dehydrated again?”
I let out a “Bah!” Life is not here for the young. We elders should have more time . . . now that we see what’s going on around us.
I try again. “Remember that day, this past winter, when I pointed out the computer screen to you just at the exact moment?”
Patrice shakes her head impatiently. “Coincidence, Gran. I don’t why you were so excited. So what that the numbers appeared just as you and I checked the time?”
“The ‘numbers’?” I shout. “More than just ‘numbers’! 1 11 11:11. What are the chances? When will that ever happen again in anyone’s lifetime? This was a sign!”
My granddaughter sighs. “January 11, at 11:11. No biggie.”
I bang my cane on the wood floor. Patrice flinches. “But the point is,” I point out, “we looked at the computer just at the right moment. Just when it showed us 1 11 11:11.” My heart flutters, and I lose my breath. These young people can be immensely trying.
“Gran? Gran! Mom!” Patrice calls for her mother, my daughter, Grace. My first born. Maybe she’s the one I should tell, although at 55, Grace thinks she knows it all.
But now, Grace is slapping me on the cheeks.
“Mom! Mom!! Patrice, call 911. I think Gran’s having a stroke. Mom!”
I fade into the other realm. The realm right next to us that I’ve been trying to explain to my oblivious family.
I’ll regroup and then try again.
But wait. The world right next door, here, is warm and welcoming. I feel at 1, I mean, at ONE with myself.
I am ONE.
And finally, I understand.
(Flash fiction using the words: watch, whisper, secret, slap, rocking chair)