By Michelle Webster-Hein

February 20, 2014


We have just spent a long weekend introducing the babe to her aunts and uncles, first and second cousins, great-grandmothers. We stayed in the house where her father’s father’s mother was born, where she cared for a dying son and where, at ninety-nine years old, she still wakes at dawn and sips her instant coffee over the newspaper.

So I have thought a lot about old things these past few days, about how the house smells like a leather-bound book forgotten on a shelf for half a century. About how upstairs I found a film of ash in an ashtray from the same era as the buried son who grinned out at me from the blurred and yellowing photographs, next to the ones of his young mother laughing in the rain, his father smirking handsomely behind a cigar. 

It is so impossible to believe that we will ever grow old--that I could ever be the grandmother at the front window waving goodbye to my grandson and his wife and their brand-new baby. Or that my husband could ever be the man at the roadside restaurant hours later, who, drawn to our table by our smiling child, recited all of the jobs his father had ever worked in his life, though he had died so long ago.

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