“No sweetheart,” I said. “She died when I was 14 and she’d gone forever.”
He revised his question to ask if there was a way he could dig her up so that he could see her face not inside of a picture. I had been telling him stories about how she could mimic Woody Woodpecker’s laugh in the greatest way. I told him that her chocolate cookies were tastier than any other grandma’s cookies ever could be. My grandma died fourteen years ago and I still remember there being hundreds of people at her funeral. So many people that I had never seen before. Whenever we went out to eat with our extended family my grandma would run into one of her friends. I was convinced Grandma Pearl was famous.
I also remembered the way my mother would speak so highly of her grandmother who came to the United States via Ellis Island. Her name was Kristiane Erickson but everyone to this day refers to her as Grandma Kitty. I wanted to know the woman that my family thought of so fondly that they named me in her honor. I recall how my mother’s eyes appeared open when she told me stories about her grandma, but she was really looking at scenes of the past and the visuals of what she remembered.
As I was talking I knew I was doing that very same thing, and I had tears in my eyes. When I looked in the rear view mirror at my little boy I noticed his eyes were red and wet as well. We were driving down a boring street in our boring car when this discussion took place. I don’t know how it’ll play out for sure, but I told him that when we all get to heaven I was going to personally introduce him to Grandma Pearl. That thought made both of us smile.
Sometimes the only way to seemingly answer small children’s endless car ride quizzes is to lie with the best intentions.